“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).
As a college student living in an apartment I learned how to cook for myself when I had to. As you can well imagine my culinary presentations were not very sophisticated. French toast was about the only think “continental” about my cuisine. I did however develop the habit of cooking things in a hurry. The burner controls on my little apartment stove had one setting … HIGH. To my way of thinking, if cooking something on medium was good, cooking on high must be better. Of course in those days I presented many burnt offerings. I learned to scrape the burned parts off of food and eat it anyway.
Fast forward to today. On the rare occasions that I cook something in the kitchen, I regret to say that I have not kicked the habit of cooking things on high. Splatters of bacon grease mark the ceiling of our kitchen as testimony to this fact. Nan is extraordinarily gifted in the kitchen, and panics whenever I enter her domain for the purpose of cooking something for myself.
While bringing something to a boil quickly in the kitchen is usually not the best idea, the Bible teaches us that when it comes to our zeal in loving and serving God we should turn up the heat. When Paul admonished the Roman believers to keep their “spiritual fervor,” the word he uses literally means “to bring to a boil.” The present active verb means to keeping on being fervent in one’s spirit.
And the realm in which this spiritual fervor is displayed is in serving the Lord. My service to God is the overflow (boiling over!) of my fervent spirit.
The fact that these are instructions given to believers leads us to the conclusion that we are personally responsible for the level of our own spiritual fervor. We are to be active, not passive, in maintaining our zeal and passion for God.
From my own experience I’ve discovered several enemies that can blow out the fire under our spiritual fervor:
- Physical exhaustion
- Emotional disappointments
- Satanic oppression
- Worldly distractions
- Personal sin
In light of these insidious enemies let me challenge you to take the following steps in keeping your spiritual zeal and fervor at the boiling point:
- Maintain meaningful daily time in the Word and prayer. There can be no overstating how important this is. I don’t know of any passionate followers of Christ who are not disciplined in their devotional habits.
- Get plenty of rest and exercise. Our bodies and our spirits are connected, so that what affects one affects the other. If I’m physically drained it can affect my spiritual vitality.
- Forgive others who have hurt or disappointed you. The Bible talks about a root of bitterness that grows up and defiles us. This so easily extinguishes the Spirit’s fire in our lives.
- Schedule times for prayer, solitude and fasting. Jesus did this because He knew how draining ministry to others can be, as well as the need to break the grip of satanic attacks.
- Feed your spiritual life with godly books and music. Sometimes our spiritual fervor wanes because we are so absorbed in the things of the world that our spirits are starving for the things of God. Read biographies of the great men and women of the faith who kept their hearts white hot for God.
- Repent of and confess any known sin. Not much explanation needed here; sin will drain your spiritual energy.
- Spend time with “on-fire” believers. When I’m around people who are zealous for God it rubs off on me. We need to do this for one another.
- Inform your face! I’m not talking about faking it. But if I am responsible for the level of spiritual fervor in my life, then I must display it in my countenance. I think of Stephen whose face, even in the midst of severe persecution, glowed with a passion for the glory of God (Acts 6:15).
So if the fire has gone out under your spiritual life, guess what? You’re responsible. Take steps today to rekindle the flame of your devotion to Christ.