We have fervency about many things: politics, golf, football, and for some of us our grandchildren. But, do we have spiritual fervency? It is not hard to see a difference in the enthusiasm and the light that twinkles in the eye when we talk about football versus things of a spiritual nature
Fervent is a word that looks at the spirit, the spirit of people. It is an attitude. We talk about zeal meaning a boiling. That does not describe a tranquil spirit but a troubled spirit. Not troubled in the sense of bad but in the sense of not at rest. Apollos is described as eloquent, mighty in scripture but also fervent in spirit. What good does it do to know the scriptures but not be fervent in spirit? Fervency will not just happen. It is easier to drift to a place where our fervency settles out and dies.
For example, open the seven letters to the seven churches and there is Ephesus where Paul spends so much time. It was a grand center of things done in Asia. Yet, they are described as having “left their first love” (Rev. 2:4). Something in their very sense of values that has been lost. That is critical. They are on the edge of losing their identity as the people of God. They lost their fervency that bound them to the Lord. It is not trivial to lose our fervency. Will churches today go where Ephesus went?
Also, Sardis was said to be alive but in reality were dead (Rev. 3:2). Their reputation was there but the thing that should have identified them was not. Laodicea had grown lukewarm. People who should have been a delight to the Lord had become obnoxious to Him. They lost their fervency.
Is it inevitable? Is it inevitable that churches today drift away? Will buildings where saints once assembled become empty? Cobwebs will grow in the corner? People will no longer hunger and be zealous in the cause of the Lord? Is it something that is just going to happen?
It doesn’t have to happen. We need to know how to prevent it because burn out is not an absolute necessity. We don’t have to wear out, burn out and die out in the cause of the Lord. Paul didn’t. When we meet the old man Paul, he doesn’t sound like an old man. The zest and zeal of Paul, the older man, is as great as the zest and zeal of Paul the younger man.
How would we prevent burn out? How would we prevent just drifting away like Ephesus until we lose our fervency in the Lord?
Consider, we need to remember where we were when the Lord called us. We take ourselves so seriously. We have made so much progress, become so righteous, we defend our ground. We forget where we came from. We forget what we were. It makes a difference. If we forget what we were when the Lord called us the fire will die. No doubt about it. We get to where we do not even want to acknowledge that we are sinners. We are called when sinners. His mercy is still extended to us as sinners. Local churches are comprised of people who are sinners who need to be reminded that only by the mercy of God are we anything other than lost sinners. We cannot live spiritually without remembering. If we forget the fire dies.
Paul never lost his fervency because he never forgot. Paul was not ashamed to tell about where he had been or what his story was. Paul never forgot he was a blasphemer, injurious, killing Christians and an enemy of God. Paul never forgo, thus his zest for being a Christian was never diminished. It was as fresh as the mercy that had been extended to him as it was at the beginning.
We sing, “I was sinking deep in sin…. love lifted me.” We sing the song but do we doubt the fervency of the writer? Do we have a sense of how bad it is to be lost? Without a sense of how bad it is to be lost we will never appreciate it and have zest for our Savior.
By Rickie Jenkins