2 Timothy 1:8-9 - Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share in suffering for the Gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.
I came across a word the other day that may best belong in an iced tea commercial: "defervesence"—a cooling down, a decrease in bodily temperature. It's quite a handy word as late spring moves toward summer when temperatures begin to flare, and we begin seeking out cooler spaces.
Writers of advice columns, as well as advocates of popular psychology, often recommend defervesence in stressful situations. This makes sense. Sometimes we do need to cool it, take stock of a situation, and give our nerves a chance to settle down. Or as the lid on the mayonnaise jar advises, "Keep cool; don't freeze."
But there are times when we need to turn up the burners, so to speak, when increasing the energy levels is the best choice. It's in these times I like another word, a made-up "word": fervesence, zeal. It's what I would like to see come to life in God's people as they go about their daily affairs, becoming—who knows?—maybe God's "fervent fanatics"?
The ways we might become more passionate in our approach to a robust Christian life are pretty much endless: occasional weekend work with a group of dedicated volunteers; inviting that new family down the block over for a barbecue; taking some time to visit those who are sick or infirmed at a local hospital or residential care facility; volunteering to teach Sunday school, or working with your youth group. And all of this can start with dedicating a few minutes each day to reading God's Word or a daily devotion.
The apostle Paul was no stranger to fervency. He found John, Mark, and later on, Timothy, and set out for parts unknown, declaring the Good News of Jesus, far and wide. He's the one who said, "Woe to me if I don't preach the Gospel" (1 Corinthians 9:16b). And he set the world on fire because the Holy Spirit had set a fire in him. Have you asked God for that same fire—that same zeal, that fervesence?
Serving God daily, willingly, in spite of challenges is not easy. But given the power of God's grace and the Holy Spirit to guide our steps, we can set out, conquering, as Paul did. "For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).
As we fervently go forth, may we remember that we, too, possess this same divine power.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, let our lives burn brightly for You as they become lights to those around us who are struggling in a dark world. In Your Name. Amen.
From The Lutheran Layman, August 1983 issue, "Thawing Out," by Jane Fryar
1. Do you find it hard to get enthused about spiritual matters? If so, why do you think that is?
2. "Power to destroy strongholds"—what do you think Paul meant by this?
3. How can the fervency Paul felt for sharing the Gospel be active and evident in our lives?
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