One of my life goals is to stay hot for God. When I look at the spiritual giants of the Bible, I see men and women who carried a holy fire inside them—a fire that produced much more than personal purity. After heaven’s coals touched their lips, the flames drove them to pursue God’s radical agenda.
The prophets of the Old Testament knew this fire. Jeremiah, in fact, said he felt as if God’s flames were shut up in his bones (see Jer. 20:9). King David said the zeal of the Lord “consumed” him (see Ps. 69:9)—and that verse was cited when Jesus drove the moneychangers out of the temple with a whip.
That same fire blazed in the hearts of first-century believers who were torn apart by Caesar’s lions. If more recent spiritual heroes such as Charles Finney, George Whitefield, John Wesley or Catherine Booth had anything in common, it was their white-hot zeal. Lukewarm Christians never changed the world.
You may think that such unusual fervor is an emotion reserved only for full-time evangelists or missionaries. But the apostle Paul tells us that all Christians should have a spiritual temperature that reaches the boiling point. In Romans 12:11 he commands us to be “fervent in spirit.” The Greek word for fervent is zeo, which means “to boil like hot liquid or to glow like hot metal.”
I know enough about my own sinful nature—and about the history of the church—to recognize that spiritual zeal must be rekindled regularly. Movements that begin with intense evangelistic fervor can become as cold as ice in one generation. The fire in your own life can be quenched.
Are you on fire for God? He wants your spiritual life to pack some heat. But it is our responsibility to fan the flames. Revival is a choice.
Perhaps it is time for you to get a checkup. Answering these questions will help determine your spiritual temperature:
* Do you have compassion for those who don’t know Jesus? If it has been awhile since you’ve shared your faith with a non-Christian, that’s a good indication that your zeal has waned. When the fire of God rages inside us, we cannot hold it in!
* Are you grieved by the blatant sinfulness of the culture around you? Jesus never called us to isolate ourselves from unbelievers. But if we compromise with the world’s values, we will grow cold. Our entertainment choices or selfish pleasures can subtly lure us away from wholehearted devotion. If you have pitched your tent too close to Sodom, your friendship with darkness will snuff out your spiritual passion.
* Are you ruthlessly dealing with all known sin in your life? Many Christians live in a continual state of lukewarmness because they are not willing to lay the ax to the root of their sin. God wants us to bring our sinful habits into the burning light of His presence.
* Are you pursuing the things of God with more passion than other personal interests? During the days of the prophet Haggai, Israel was guilty of the sin of misplaced priorities. People were building their own houses while God’s house lay in ruins (see Hag.1:2-5). You may have admirable goals that don’t seem “wrong” in themselves, but your desire for a career, material success, recognition, a mate or a stress-free life may be what is sapping your zeal.
* Are you intimate with God? Spiritual zeal is not about how long you pray or how many times you go to church every week. True passion for God is fueled when you are close to Him. If your faith has become a rote formula, a dry tradition or an empty shell, run back into His arms and let Him melt your cold heart.