In a letter to the church at Laodicea (Rev 3:15-18) it is noticeable that there is not one single good thing for which the Lord could commend this church. Certainly this is a sad state of affairs. Notice the charge: “You are neither cold nor hot.” If there is anything that is more nauseating to the Lord than a lukewarm church member, it is a lukewarm church. No wonder He says, “I will spew you out of my mouth.”
In order for a doctor to diagnose a case he must know what part of the patient is afflicted. Man’s nature is composed of four parts: the intellectual, the emotional, the volitional, and the physical. These involve the head, the heart and the hand. We can think, feel and act. When we are afflicted with lukewarmness all parts are diseased to a degree, but the disease seems to center in the heart. Physically, heart disease is always dangerous and often fatal; the same is true spiritually.
We should not minimize the importance of the intellect, nor should we over estimate the value of the heart. Some people put all of their heart into religion, but not enough of the head. They have a super-abundance of zeal, but as Paul said of his Jewish brethren, “They have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom 10:2).
First, we must know the Lord’s will. We must discover what he wants us to do and and how he wants it done. This acquisition of knowledge involves the head or the intellect. But knowledge alone will not suffice, for we are required to be “doers of the word and not hearers only;” doing involves the hand (Jam 1:22) . However, the hand will do little unless it has the cooperation, the motivation and the driving power of the heart and will behind it. The emotional part of our nature must be enlisted. There must be zeal, warmth of feeling, ardor of affection, and fervor of love. A car may have a perfect motor and faultless wheels, yet fail to function. A mechanic may find that this failure is due to a defective transmission. Likewise, knowledge of what to do, and the physical strength to do it are insufficient. The heart must be enlisted in order to transmit knowledge into action.
In diagnosis, doctors look for symptoms. What are the symptoms of lukewarmness? One of the symptoms is Self complacency. The Laodiceans said, “We have need of nothing.” It is hard to help people who feel no need of help. Many, like the Pharisees, feel themselves good enough. They are satisfied with their state of religious development. We should never be satisfied, but always unsatisfied. Like Paul, let us “press on” to greater knowledge, greater service, and greater attainment. Let us reach forth to the goal. Self-righteousness is dangerous.
Another symptom of lukewarmness is unconsciousness of disease. A frostbitten limb is quite comfortable. “You know not that you are wretched, miserable, poor, and blind and naked.” Some forms of cancer do their fatal work before the patient is aware. Wise Christians consult the Great Physician frequently.
Numerous causes contribute to lukewarmness. We must be kept in close contact with the forge of God’s love through study, prayer, worship and fellowship. We need much help to counteract the influence of the cares, riches and pleasures of this life.
Many professed Christians are afflicted with this disease. Let us follow the prescription of the Great Physician: – “I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire.” This purchase involves the exchange of values. We must sacrifice some things that may be gratifying to the carnal man in order to possess the “true riches.”
We all have need of the “white raiment” of Christian character, otherwise we will be found without the robe of righteousness at the judgement. Let us put off the old man: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication; and put on the new man: bowels of mercies, kindness, meekness, long-suffering and forgiveness, lest the shame of our nakedness appear.
Are you afflicted with the fatal heart disease of lukewarmness? If so, listen to the Lord’s admonition: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” Let us use our intellect with which to acquire the knowledge of God and his will; let us use our hearts to transmit this power to our bodies that there may be a performance of that which we know to do. Let’s use our heads, our hearts, and our hands in the service of the Lord.