by Kimberly B. Southall

Looking at our bathroom faucet recently brought to mind a certain passage of Scripture:

14"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth." (Revelation 3:14-16 NIV)

The Lord has given each of us an important message here.

First, who are the "cold"? Because this is addressed to the church and not the world, we know the message is for Christians. Therefore, the "cold" are those who no longer serve Christ in word and deed. (Take note that deeds are specifically mentioned in verse 15).

Second, who are the "hot"? These are the faithful Christians who have dedicated their lives to serving God in all they say and do.

Lastly, this leaves the "lukewarm." Notice that the Lord considers these Christians worse than the "cold"! But why? The reason came to me as I gazed at the bathroom faucet. To get cold water, we turn on "cold." To get hot water, we turn on "hot." That's fairly elementary. But to get warm, we turn on a little of both cold and hot. They are then mixed together to become an indistinguishable lukewarm--it is not hot and it is not cold.

Now, if we apply that to the Christian life, we can see why the Lord would detest it. Others in the world watching our words and deeds often measure Christ by us. If a Christian is cold, he blends right in to the world and follows its ways and isn't recognized as a Christian. Thus, he doesn't render much damage to the cause of Christ. And, of course, the "hot" Christian sets a good example for others and leads them to Christ, furthering the kingdom of God. But the "lukewarm" one . . . well, he is trouble. By sometimes serving God and other times following worldly ways, he tries to serve two masters. But all he manages to do is not only lead his worldly friends astray but also deceive Christian brothers and sisters, sometimes even causing them to fall. There is no end to the trouble caused by the "lukewarm" Christian. He is surely one who doubts and is " . . . like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind . . . he is a double-minded man unstable in all he does." (James 1:6-8 NIV)

Revelation 3:16 makes the fate of the "lukewarm" clear--he will be spit out. In the Greek, the word is "eme," which means literally "to vomit." The "lukewarm" Christian makes God sick!

As Christians, we should continually examine ourselves and honestly determine whether we are cold, hot, or lukewarm and make adjustments in our lives, word and deed, accordingly. Paul advises us, "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." (Romans 12:11 NIV)

Hot, cold, or lukewarm: The choice is ours. Even though remaining "hot" in the service of Christ may not always be easy, it is certainly worth it. For just a little further in the scriptures, Jesus assures the Laodiceans (and us):

21To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 3:21-22 NIV)

Copyright © 1998 Kimberly B. Southall. All rights reserved.