Be fervent in spirit. Romans 12:11
The word fervent raises the issue of spiritual temperature.
- “In the last days ‘lawlessness will be increased and the love of many will grow cold’” (Mat. 24:12).
- “I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Rev. 2:4).
- “You are neither cold nor hot… Because you are lukewarm… I will spit you out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:15-16).
The Scripture says, “be fervent in spirit.” Keep yourself on the boil. But unless heat is applied, the natural way of things is that they grow cold. If your meal sits on the table too long, you put it in the microwave because it has grown cold.
A man called Octavius Winslow wrote a book with an untrendy title: Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul. It is about how easily we can slide into a spiritual decline (personal declension) and then what can be done to get us back on the boil again (revival of religion in the soul).
Winslow writes, “If there is one consideration more humbling than another to a spiritually-minded believer, it is, that, after all God has done for him… there should still exist in the heart a principle, the tendency of which is to secret, perpetual, and alarming departure from God.”
This growing cold, this jadedness, this reluctance to draw near to God, Winslow says, has three distinctive features. First, it is secret. That means it creeps up on you in a way that at first you may not even notice. Second, it is perpetual. That means we never get beyond the tendency to grow cold. The need to apply heat to our spiritual lives is always with us. Third, it is alarming. If you love the Lord, you will know what it is to be surprised by how cold your heart can be.
Which distinctive feature is most surprising to you? Why?