Character Traits of the Spiritual Life: Fervency

Character Traits of the Spiritual Life:

Fervency

 

Richard Hollerman

 

Let’s now consider spiritual fervency.  One of the leading characteristics of our life in Christ should be our fervent devotion to Him.  We should be consumed with God’s will (1 John 2:17), God’s truth (John 8:32), God’s Word (John 17:17), along with God’s honor, plans, and glory!  It was written concerning Jesus, “Zeal for Your house will consume me” (John 2:17) and a zeal for God like this should grasp our heart as well.

The English word fervent means having or showing great emotion or zeal; ardent.”  It derives from a word meaning “to boil.”[i]  The Greek word for “fervent” is ektenes which, metaphorically, means fervent.[ii]  The Greek word for “zeal” is zeo, meaning “to be hot, to boil.”[iii]  The noun “earnest” comes from spoude, akin to pseudo, meaning ‘to hasten.” The adjective spoudaios means “active, diligent, earnest.”  And sometimes “earnestly” comes from ektenos, the same as “fervently.”[iv]  These terms and others like them have the idea of enthusiasm, which literally means “in God” (from en, “in,” and theos, “God”).  The Biblical enthusiasm about which we speak comes from a holy relationship with God.  “Every believer is instructed to be enthusiastic in the basic matters of Christian living.”[v]

It is unworthy of God to live an apathetic life of spiritual indifference.  Paul admonishes us, “. . . not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).  The term “fervent” here is from the Greek zeo.  The NET Bible renders this verse, “Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord.”  Are we fervent and enthusiastic in spirit in our spiritual service?  Paul writes, “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).  Do we “abound” in God’s work?[vi]

Our fervency should be expressed in a variety of ways.  We are to be fervent in love: “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another” (1 Peter 4:8a).  “Since you have in obedience to the truth, purified your souls for a sincere love for the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” (1:22). We are to be fervent in prayer. Epaphras was “always laboring earnestly for [the Colossians] in his prayers” (Colossians 4:12). We are to be fervent or zealous in good deeds. Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14). We are to be zealous in generosity. “Your zeal [in giving] has stirred up most of them” (2 Corinthians 9:2). We are to be fervent in preaching. Even before he was saved, Apollos was “fervent in spirit” and spoke and taught “accurately the things concerning Jesus” (Acts 18:25).  It has been said that “enthusiasm is passionate devotion to the work of God.”[vii]

Since God is the most lovely, merciful, wonderful Being in existence and both our creation and our re-creation has been accomplished by Him through Christ and the work of the Spirit, we denigrate and dishonor Him when we take Him casually, as though He didn’t deserve our complete devotion.  Christ informs us how He views spiritual apathy in regard to Him and His work.  He tells those in Laodicea, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.  So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16).  His word to these people was to “be zealous and repent” (v. 19). 

The true Christian, filled with the Spirit, will live a fervent life of devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. This will include a heart filled with Jesus, filled with the Spirit, and obsessed with God that is manifested in continual prayer, regular Bible reading and study and song, and every other spiritual discipline. Let’s be fervent for the Lord Jesus!

 



[i] The American Heritage College Dictionary.

[ii] W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary.

[iii] Ibid.; Apollos was also called “fervent in spirit” (Acts 18:25).

[iv] Vine, Ibid.

[v] The Power for True Success, p. 82.

[vi] “Always be outstanding in the work of the Lord” (NET Bible).

[vii] The Power for True Success, p. 83.

 

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