BY CLIFTON JONES
Temperature can best be defined as a degree of hotness or coldness.
When a person complains of illness and is checked by a medical expert, one of the first things the expert checks is the person’s temperature. The degree of a person’s body has much to say about what is going on inside of him. Spiritually speaking, the degree of our heart’s temperature reveals what is going on inside of us. Physically speaking, a weak heart limits one’s activities. The same is true spiritually; when our love grows cold, we are limited in what we can do. One of the worst things that can happen to us as Christians, is that our love grows cold. We are like a person who has suffered a heart attack; there must be a change in his daily activities. I am by no means a medical expert, yet I know that there are many things which
contribute to heart failure. Some are no doubt preventable, and some are not. Cold love is caused by a variety of things, all of which I believe are preventable. Just as staying in a warm room will guarantee
that we will not get cold, if we maintain intimate fellowship with Jesus, our love will never grow cold.
When one suffers a heart attack, most doctors require that the patient changes his or her diet. To safeguard against cold love, we must maintain a special diet.
Satan is not just concerned about us abandoning the visible congregation; he wants us to neglect our special diet so that our love will grow cold. When our love grows cold, it matters not where we are, who we are, or what position we hold, the results are the same. Cold love produces estranged relationships and bad examples. Judas was Jesus’ treasurer, not withstanding, his cold love allowed him to sell his Lord. Cold love blinds the mind to who Jesus is, and what He has done, and how badly we need a closer relationship with Him. Cold love shifts the focus from what Jesus wants to what satisfies self. This is another good reason we can’t afford to let our love grow cold.
It is impossible to follow Jesus without denying one’s self. The more we follow our earthly appetite, the colder our love grows toward Christ. The temperature of one’s heart does not fall in a moment’s time. I am sure the temperature of Judas’ heart did not grow cold overnight. But through private neglect, unchecked greed and covetousness, his love became cold enough to sell the Lord. Sinning is worst on our love than a Canadian cold front is on our houseplants. Just as houseplants and tropical trees cannot live in cold climates, neither can our love remain hot in a sin-practicing life. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalms 119:11). When we give heed to God’s word, we are divinely protected and kept from falling. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word,” (Psalms 119:9). “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,” (Jude 24).
If the thought has crossed our mind that nothing could possibly kill our love or cause it to grow cold, we need to consider what Jesus said about the increase of wickedness. He cited it as a cause for many
to allow their love to wax cold.
Matthew 24:12: And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”
The pattern seems to be clear. As the degree of coldness in the world falls, its influence tends to find its way into the church. That is, as the world practices sin without shame, with boldness and openness, it seems to influence the church. And when a member of the church commits one of the popular sins, instead of us seeking to restore such a one, that mob spirit from the world provokes us to destroy such a one. God is too slow for many of us; therefore, we must act hastily to preserve the purity of the church. When we allow our
emotions to override our better judgment, we open the door for a fighting spirit, which opens the door for a critical spirit and the spirit of division. “And by all means, don’t brag about being wise and good if you are bitter and jealous and selfish; that is the worst sort of lie. For jealousy and selfishness are not God ‘s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, inspired by the d evil. For wherever there is jealousy or selfish ambition, there will be disorder and every other kind of evil,” (James 3:14-16, Living Bible).
A fighting, or angry, spirit in a congregation will really lower the temperature of love. It puts people at odds, bringing in demon spirits and divisions. I often say one of Satan’s best efforts against us is his way of dividing us. While we are at war with each other, he can move his army on and start confrontation elsewhere. With as much emphasis that the Bible places on brotherly love, I can readily see why the lack of it will cause one’s love to wax cold.
In the Jeremiah, Chapter Two, we see one of the saddest accounts of love growing cold. “Again the Lord spoke to me and said: Go and shout this in Jerusalem’s streets: the Lord says, I remember how eager
you were to please me as a young bride long ago and how you loved me and followed me even through the barren deserts. In those days Israel was a holy people, the first of my children. All who harmed them were
counted deeply guilty, and great evil fell on anyone who touched them. O Israel, says the Lord, why did your fathers desert me? What sin did they find in me that turned them away and changed them into fools who worship idols?” (Jeremiah 2:1-5, Living Bible). We can see from this text that the love of God’s children has been waxing cold for a long time.
It is to be regretted that too few start off and maintain a high level of zeal for the Lord. Too many of us blow hot and cold much too often. We are to be blamed when we do not continue with the eagerness with which we started. The Lord will do his part to help us to continue.
Jude 1:24: Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. ”
We should all learn from Israel’s mistakes. They saw what the other nations were doing, and were influenced to serve their gods rather than show the world the true and living God.
Cold love will do that to us; it will keep us busy trying to follow the styles of this world. And at the same time, we are diminishing in our affections toward the Lord. Another disaster is to continue in action long after we have lost our warmth for the Lord. This we see far too often in today’s church world. I say, today, but yet I know that this is nothing new to Christendom. We can gather from Revelation, Chapter Two, that the early church had problems with love growing cold. However, we can see from the text that the people did not let their low temperature stop them from doing what they had been doing. That is what we need to understand about cold love; it doesn’t necessarily mean that one will terminate his activities altogether, but
he will do what he does without any genuine love for God.
Revelation 2:2-4: I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name ‘s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
The Lord is mindful to give credit where credit is due, but his main concern is that we do what we do because of our love for Him. No amount of service or manifestation of gifts, will compensate for our
love for Him.
Revelation 2:4: Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.”
It behooves us to check the temperature of our love daily. If we find that the zeal, excitement, thrill, devotion, and appreciation we began with is vanishing, we need to ask him to fan our fire. We can ill
afford to let our love grow cold and substitute the lack of heat with service. In the above text the Lord pointed out the condition; but in Verse Five, we are given the remedy.
Before we look at the remedy, let us point out some modern examples of cold love. Our assemblies are filled with people who will do many things for the Lord as long as they are not expected to spend time with the Lord. Notwithstanding, the things we do for the Lord should come as a result of the time we spend with the Lord. Prayer is the only God-given method I know that will keep heat in the heart. And when prayer is omitted, a cold wave of pride, jealousy, envy and hypocrisy will invade our hearts leaving a sub-zero temperature for our Lord.
Many of us have been religious so long that we have seemingly forgot how to be spiritual. In other words, we look upon service for God the same as being intimate with God. You can work without praying,
but you cannot truly pray without working. Our working without praying has left much to be desired. Our loss of fire in the pulpits, Sunday School classroom, choir stands, deacon’s corner, mothers’ board, etc.,
has left the world in a state of hopelessness because people are only known to leave the cold for heat. We know when the heat is low in the church, the world is ice cold. Now, to view God’s recommendation for
one whose love has grown cold.
Revelation 2:5: Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
Since it was the highway of pride, which led us from the Lord, we must take the low road of humility to return to him. In other words, we must repent. We must repent because the world to which we are to be a
light is now in more darkness than it has ever known before. We need to repent because our hearts are no longer burning with devotion, obedience, zeal, and godly ambition; and we are no longer burdened for
souls. We need to repent because we spend more time entertaining our minds with television than we ever spend searching the Scriptures. The only way we will ever recover what we have lost is that we must repent
or we will perish in our cold conditions.
Dear Reader, we need to earnestly seek him to rekindle the fire in our hearts. Let us not just be satisfied that we are not guilty of some gross sin, because a cold heart is enough to lead us away from the true and living God.
Hebrews 3:12 says, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
Material things have played their part in robbing us of much of the time we should be spending with the Lord. We have so many comforts today that we never visualized years ago. And while we are admiring,
boasting about them and enjoying them, multitudes are going into a Christless grave without our shedding one tear. We need to repent; we need to repent today; for tomorrow will be too late!
We can see from the book of Revelation, Chapter Three, that an in-between temperature will cause divine nausea, that is sickness of the stomach with a desire to vomit.
Revelation 3:15-16: I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
A burning heart is God’s first choice and only choice. That is why He counsels his church to seek satisfaction through Him. He knows that the world’s way will kill our spiritual fire, and leave us with
cold love toward Him.
Isaiah 55:1-2: Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
When we feast at the master’s table, we are guaranteed to be satisfied. And when we are satisfied, we will maintain a high spiritual level of service and appreciation. The Lord asked, “Why do we labour for that which satisfieth not?” He knows that earthly things will lower the temperature of our love as quickly as anything on earth. It is sad, but true, that the more some of us get, the less time we have for the things of God. We are often guilty of turning earthly blessings into gods. That is to say that things become the focus of our attention rather than reasons to praise Him more. This was one of His complaints against the church at Ephesus.
Revelation 3:17: Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked …
I am not saying that we cannot have abundance of earthly things and yet maintain a deep love for the Lord. I am saying too many of us do not. There is no question whether or not it can be done, because many have done just that. To name some from the Bible: Job, Abraham, David, and there were others; but these stand out because of their relationship with the Lord. There are Christians today who are greatly blessed, and they yet maintain a good relationship with God. There are others who must be poverty stricken to keep their hearts from freezing in the day of boasting. No matter what we are blessed with, we need to always remember who the giver of good things is, and how we were able to acquire what we have.
Deuteronomy 8:18: But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
Let us ask the Lord for what is best for us, not what others have. We do not need anything that will take us away from him or that will cool our relationship towards him.
Proverbs 30:7-9: Two things have l required of thee; deny me them not before I die: remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full
and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
Verse Nine fully supports the fact that one can have abundance and lose their sense of need for the Lord. Before they entered into the land, the Lord warned Israel of the danger success could have upon them. Not that He wanted to stop them from having the blessings, He did not want to forget the one who blessed.
Deuteronomy 6:10-12: And it shall be, when the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildest not, and houses full of all good things, which thou fillest not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten to be full; then beware lest thou forget the Lord, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
It seems to be human nature to get fat, full, and forgetful.
My prayer to the Lord is, “Lord, I don’t want anything that will cool off my love for you.” I know it is a challenge to maintain a hot heart in such a cold atmosphere. “But with God all things are possible.” The Bible is full of examples of those who continued steadfast with God under some of the most gruesome circumstances. They kept their fire burning when the odds said they could not make it.
Hebrews 11:33: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.
Hebrews 11:36-38: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they
wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY HODALE PRESS, INC., 1993, PAGES 54-62. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.