Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. Matthew 24:9-13
It was just a week ago, here in Iowa, that we were experiencing high temperatures in the 40-50 degree range, just enjoying each day as it arrived. Then on Sunday, we had our first measurable snowfall of around 2” and it was not too bad. I even worked up in a sweat pushing snow around during my first Winter Workout of the season. And now, we are struggling to see high temps out of the teens and single digits…cold by most measures! Honestly, I enjoy the wide variety of weather we get here in Iowa, as they say, just wait and it will change. But lots of snow and long stretches of days when temps fail to break above 30 degrees leave me feeling a bit cold and discouraged too.
So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:16
What if we took your spiritual temperature, what would it read? How would we even measure that…by how often you attend church, frequency of bible reading or prayer, or any other outward measurement? A better question may be ‘How sold-out for Jesus are you?’ Again, it may be difficult to quantify this outwardly, but you definitely know it if you have been hot or cold before. As we go through life, we may even experience different seasons of when we grow or become stagnant spiritually, of when we appear spiritually fruitful and times we are not. Another question becomes, how do you respond when you or those around you become lukewarm or cold and inattentive to the presence of God in their lives. What do you do then?
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
Most people do not turn cold overnight, but gradually drift that way over time. Often, it may be specific trials, influential people, or life circumstances that trigger them to become discouraged or start to turn away from their once fervent faith. Another response is when we become so self-sufficient that we start to feel we don’t really need God, as we are doing just fine on our own. Or we become so busy with life, that we really don’t have much time to spend with God, or listen to Him. Whatever the reason, there is still something we can do when our hearts start to turn cold toward God or others in our lives.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3
Even when we do not feel like it, if we continue to practice spiritual disciplines such as prayer, fasting, bible study, service toward others, confession, worship and other disciplines, these can fan our flames of faith and grow the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. If our faith is as temperamental as our feelings and dictated primarily by life circumstances (e.g. we trust God when life is good, and doubt Him when it does not go our way) we are in for a roller-coaster ride. When we persevere and look down the road to what lies ahead, our current status is not as daunting. Just as we will one day hear the robins chirping in anticipation of the warm weather to come, a time of spiritual growth and renewal is likely for the frozen chosen when they persist in their faith. May the promise of Christ and the work of his Spirit give you hope, regardless of what lies ahead.
Yours in Christ,