What is Your Spiritual Temperature?
When I was still quite small about three or four years of age, my mother was checking me for a temperature. She was using one of those glass, mercury filled thermometers. Some how I bit it in two. When my grandfather saw what I had done he jumped up and grabbed me. Pulled the remaining part of the thermometer out of my mouth and checked to see, if I had swallowed any of the dangerous mercury.
Regardless of the dangers of mercury poisoning, body temperature is one of the many vital signs for a healthy life along with pulse rate, blood pressure, and rate of respiration. Spiritually speaking, there are vital signs of life. One does not need a thermometer for these, but it does require self-examination. Paul wrote, “examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
The right temperature for a body is about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. So what is the right spiritual temperature for the soul? Well, it is not like the Laodiceans who were lukewarm. “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Rev. 3:15-16). One definition of lukewarm is “serving God in such a way as to not offend the devil.”
According to Romans 12:11 we are to be boiling hot: “fervent in spirit” (NASB). The Greek word for “fervent,” zeo, means “to boil with heat.” Apollos was said to have a fervent like spirit (Acts 18:25). In the Old Testament Phineas is said to have had a God-like zeal. One might refer to this as being passionate. What should a Christian be passionate about? C. S. Lewis said, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing Christianity cannot be is moderately important.”
How to Take Your Spiritual Temperature?
What does a Christian use to take their spiritual temperature? What are the spiritual thermometers one can read to assess whether they are hot or cold or lukewarm?
One means of determining a soul’s temperature is to look at one’s prayer life. “It is hard to stumble when you are on your knees.” So the more you pray the less you will stumble and fall into sin. Oswald Chambers put it bluntly: “Prayer is the vital breath of the Christian; not the thing that makes him alive, but the evidence that he is alive.” Three things are necessary to have a fire: fuel, oxygen, and a spark. The Bible is our fuel; a decision is our spark (Joshua 24:15); prayer is our oxygen. Jesus taught that “men ought always to pray” (Luke 18:1). Charles H. Spurgeon wrote, “I know of no better thermometer to your spiritual temperature than this, the measure of the intensity of your prayer.”
Before the printing press, the Catholic Church could control the production of the Bible to a certain extent. All Bibles were in Latin, a dead language, and not in the language of the people. Then again most common folks were illiterate. Many copies of the Bible were confiscated and burned during this period. Especially, those Bibles written in the living languages of the average man.
Today, with digital Bibles on our phones and tablets, we have the Word at our fingertips at all times in all languages. No one has an excuse not to read, memorize, meditate, and apply God’s Word today The Psalmist wrote, “I will not neglect your word”? (Ps. 119:16). If your habit of Bible Study is low, you need to get back in the Word like the disciples who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus, “And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32). We need to be fervent in our search for Truth like Ezra who “set his heart to study the Law of the Lord” (Ezra 7:10)
Can you say like the Psalmist: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122:1). Or do you have to force your soul to go worship God kicking and screaming. Your habit in attendance is a good measure of your spiritual fervor. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
The one hundred and fifty psalms in our Bible are actually songs to be sung to God. “I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13:6). “To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises; For God is my defense, My God of mercy” (Psalm 59:17). “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 89:1). Do you sing to God? Do you sing even when alone with God? When at worship, do you sing with the understanding (1 Cor. 14:15)? You may not have the best singing voice in the church, but you can have a fervent voice in worship.
Another measure of one’s fever for the Lord is the Christian’s manner of partaking the Lord’s Supper. Paul wrote to Corinth, “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep” (1 Cor. 11:27-30).
How much zeal is there in giving back to the Lord when the collection plate comes around? Are you a “cheerful giver”? One day a woman poured $20,000 worth of ointment on Jesus and was criticized by others but complimented by the Lord (Mark 14:3–8). One day a poor widow observed by Jesus in the Temple gave all she had. The Macedonians gave out of need and not abundance.
Humans are amazing creatures, but they cannot feel enthusiasm and guilt at the same time. David said, “Mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me . . . I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long” (Psalm 38:4–6). John wrote, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Do you enjoy being with people of like faith? Do you like to share your faith with others. There is nothing more exciting, in my opinion, than leading a person to faith in Christ. Yet statistics show that ninety-five percent of Christians have never led one soul to salvation. John Wesley wrote, “get on fire for God and men will come and see you burn.” George Gallop surveyed 13,000 people in 130 countries who once attended church but no longer do. One question he asked was, “What would need to happen for you to return to church?” The number one answer was, “Passion in the lives of the members and leaders.” People want to see enthusiasm—they want Christians to take religion seriously.
The Northside Church of Christ in Newport News, Virginia, lost their church building to a fire caused by a lightning strike in July of 1999 Their response to the fire was seen on their church sign a few days later: “We’re still on fire.” May that be true of us!
– Daniel R. Vess