When the days get darker, the great temptation for us is to become half-hearted Christians, to follow Christ at a distance. Things are getting tougher out there, so you are tempted to keep your head down, keep your faith private, and keep your engagement at arm’s length.
It is hard to run fast when the wind is in your face. It is hard to make progress when you are swimming against the tide. When evil is on the rise, it is easy to become jaded. You begin to wonder, “What’s the point?” It is easy to feel that being all-in and sold-out for Jesus Christ just isn’t worth it. You can remember better days when you were on fire for the Lord, but now a kind of lethargy has crept over your soul and you no longer feel as you once felt.
You’re in a funk. What are you going to do about it?
Romans 12:11 gives us this command:
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit.
To be “slothful in zeal” is to be lethargic, low energy, jaded, run-down, weary, and apathetic. God commands us: “Don’t be in a funk!” To be “fervent in spirit” is the opposite. The word “fervent” raises the issue of spiritual temperature; it literally means “on the boil.” Heat is involved here. To be fervent is to be passionate, engaged, committed, active, energetic, and motivated. Don’t be in a funk, but keep yourself “on the boil,” serving the Lord.
Unless heat is applied, the natural tendency of things is that they grow cold. If your meal sits too long on the table, you put it in the microwave because it has grown cold. But how do you apply heat to your life? When you see that you are growing cold, you have to take responsibility for your own spiritual condition. You are in Christ, and the Holy Spirit lives within you. That means you are not helpless!
3 Truths That Can Renew Your Spiritual Passion
There are certain truths that, when applied rightly to your condition, will rouse your soul when you are in a funk. They will restore your spiritual fervor and help you to get yourself back “on the boil.” Here are the three R’s that can renew your spiritual passion.
When you are run-down and your soul is sluggish, the place to begin is to take in a good dose of what God has done for you in Christ.
Here is how this happened in my own life not so long ago. I was in a place where I was tired. I had experienced various discouragements and was feeling sorry for myself. I had lost energy and motivation. I was in a funk! I remember thinking, “This is no good. How am I going to shake myself out of this?”
It is often helpful at times like these to ask, “How does the Bible speak to what I am experiencing right now?” My mind went to a phrase in Galatians 6:9, where Paul speaks about being “weary of doing good” or “weary in well doing” (KJV). I knew that Martyn Lloyd Jones had preached a sermon on this verse. When I found it in a YouTube™ video1, God used that to shake me out of the funk I was in. Lloyd says:
If I ever find myself, even for a fraction of a second, doubting the greatness and the glory and the wonder and the nobility of this walk in which I am engaged, well then I’m spitting upon [Christ].2
This was like a splash of cold water on my face to waken me from the state I was in. Spitting on Christ! How could I do that? He has brought me into a redeemed life in which I am forgiven for all my sin, lovingly adopted into the family of God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and destined for a life of everlasting joy. Remembering this has helped me to not be slothful in zeal but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.
In Psalm 23, verses 1 and 3, David says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want… He restores my soul.” Christ died to save His people and He lives to keep His people. And because we grow cold, keeping us means often restoring our souls. Aren’t you glad that you can trust Him to do this? He may do it through a sermon in which you know that He is speaking to you. He may do it through the visit and kindness of a friend. He can even do it through a YouTube™ video that hits you between the eyes! But whatever the means, it is the Lord who restores your soul.
Satan wants to keep you in a funk, so he will do anything in his power to keep you from drawing near to God. Satan will put into your mind this argument: “Your heart is cold. You are not in a good place to come to God. You can’t come to God in a state like this! Come to Him when you feel better.” This is the enemy’s great argument, and he uses it time and again to keep jaded, discouraged, and lethargic Christians away from the one place where they will find help and relief. When this line of thought flashes across your mind, you need to be ready with this response: come to Christ as you are. Come, not because you have a warm heart, but in order to get a warm heart.
Christ does not say, “Get yourself ‘back on the boil’ and then come to me.” He says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). He is your Shepherd. He leads and feeds you, and when you are lacking in zeal, He is able to restore your soul.
When you think of the work you have to do, do you believe that God has called you to it? When you see that your work is for the Lord (Col. 3:23), it will give new meaning to whatever you do. However difficult it may be, in doing it you are serving Him. Other people may (or may not) appreciate what you do. They may (or may not) reward you for what you do. But if you keep in mind that you are serving the risen, sovereign Lord Jesus, it will help you to not be slothful or lacking in zeal, but to be fervent because you are serving Him.
It is really hard for soldiers to follow a general if they feel in their hearts that his campaign will end in failure. The good news for jaded followers of Jesus is that we know He wins! The grave was not the end for Jesus, and it will not be the end for us. Evil did not overcome Him, and by His grace, evil will not overcome us.
Christ redeems, Christ restores, and Christ reigns. Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that, in the Lord, your labor is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58). So, don’t be in a funk! Stay “on the boil”, serving the Lord with a warm heart when the days are cold and dark.
This article is adapted from Pastor Colin’s sermon, “Overcoming Evil With Zeal”, from his series, Overcoming Evil.
1. Marc Bocanegra, “Gospel-rooted Christian Joy: Martyn Lloyd Jones – Weary in Well Doing (Part 2 of 4),” YouTube Video, 3:45, January 3, 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEZMthbA0Jc.
2. Marc Bocanegra, “Gospel-rooted Christian Joy.”