450 Grandview Drive
Cookeville, TN 38506
"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world,
and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
Spiritual Zeal or Ice Cold?
The coldest temperature ever recorded in the U.S. was in–you guessed it–Alaska. In 1971 temperatures reached -79.8F at Prospect Creek Camp in Alaska. The lowest temperature in the contiguous 48 states was -69.7 in Montana December 10, 2013.
I wonder what the temperature would be inside our meetinghouses if we measured the spiritual zeal for the lost or our missionary zeal. It seems that one of the reasons the church is not growing as it should is due to the fact that in many instances we have allowed our spiritual zeal–our spiritual urgency–to die down to barely a spark.
We must not allow our love to wax cold. In describing the conditions leading up to the destruction that was coming Jesus said, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matt. 24:12). Paul told the saints in Rome that they were to be “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11). The New Oxford American Dictionary defines “fervent” to mean: “having or displaying a passionate intensity.” Robert Young defines this very word in Romans 12:11 as “to boil, to be hot” (Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible).
As a people for God’s own possession, we are to be “zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). After Jesus “found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting” He “made a scourge of small cords, drove them out, and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables” (John 2:14-15). His disciples then remembered what had been predicted of Jesus in Psalm 69:9. “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” (John 2:17). As in other things, Jesus left us an example in zeal that we should follow in His steps (I Pet. 2:21).
We might as well expect water to boil without heat under it as to expect the church to accomplish much for our Lord without having zeal and enthusiasm. In the example of Jesus in the temple, cited above, it may be said that Jesus was zeal personified. John Wesley said, “Catch on fire and others will love to come watch you burn.”
In the letters to the seven churches of Asia in the Revelation, Christ said the church of Ephesus had “left thy first love” (Rev. 2:4). It is my judgment that this refers to their zeal and love for the Lord. And when that happens there is only one solution: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” (Rev. 2:5).
Let each of us examine ourselves. Have we lost our zeal for preaching the Gospel? Have we lost our missionary spirit? Let each of us determine to do all we can for the Master, for “the night is coming when no man can work” (John 9:4).
Paul M. Wilmoth
Church of Christ