Athlete, Know How to Play With Passion


Athlete, Know How to Play With Passion

Bryce Johnson

Romans 12:11 (NIV)

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

As athletes, we know that playing with passion and zeal (dedication and enthusiasm) is incredibly important for success. A team can’t achieve its goals if it is lackadaisical and fails to play with a competitive spirit.

We have all had games or events where, we would have to admit, we did not play with the energy and enthusiasm necessary to win. 

In the same way that athletes must have effort and enthusiasm in order to be successful in sports, it’s also vitally important that followers of Jesus “play with passion” as they walk the road of faith.

In His message to the church of Laodicea, Jesus remarked, “‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold (invigorating, refreshing) nor hot (healing, therapeutic); I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm (spiritually useless), and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth [rejecting you with disgust]’” (Revelation 3:15-16; AMP).

Jesus made it very clear He wasn’t pleased with the lackluster passion and zeal being demonstrated by the church in Laodicea.

While the church had not completely abandoned Jesus or stopped having an interest in Him, their passion and commitment had become stale.

Unfortunately, that same assessment could be given to some of us who profess faith in Jesus today.

As we attempt to faithfully follow Jesus while navigating the responsibilities of life, we can find ourselves slipping into a state of being “lukewarm” and “playing without passion.”

While it’s vitally important to recognize how serious this problem is in Jesus’ eyes, we also need to be encouraged to make the necessary changes that enable us to follow Jesus with tremendous zeal and passion.

Romans 12:11 (NIV) commands us, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

So the question becomes: How can we generate passion and zeal when we find ourselves in a state of being lukewarm?

First of all, we must remember that we never want our emotions to dictate our actions. We take faithful steps of obedience (despite how we’re feeling at the time), and trust God to transform our feelings and emotions as we move forward.

In Jeremiah 3:22, the Lord told a group of lukewarm people, “Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.”

Notice that God didn’t tell them to find passion and zeal so they could return to God. Rather, He told them to return first, and that He’d be the One to help cure them from their lack of passion.

When we find ourselves lacking spiritual zeal in our walk with the Lord, we must be intentional to take steps of obedience regardless of how we might be feeling at the time.

That might mean committing to be more faithful in attending church, making changes to our schedule so we can regularly pray and read our Bible, or actively looking for ways to serve those in need.

Hebrews 4:12 (NASB) highlights one example of how this takes place: “For the Word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The Word of God being “living and active,” means that as we take time to read the Bible, it empowers us to better live out the things we’re reading.

In other words, deciding to read the Bible will help us have more of a desire to read it in the future.

We don’t always have complete control over our emotions and feelings, but we can control the choices we make, which often cultivates the emotions we feel.

So today, let’s choose to move forward in obedience. Let’s make the decisions that move us closer to God … trusting He’ll renew and ignite our passions as we walk in faithfulness to what He’s commanded.

Reflect:  How have you seen God transform your desires and passions when you have made  good decisions to seek Him, despite your feelings? Why is it important that we acknowledge backsliding is a big deal in God’s sight?

A prayer to consider: Heavenly Father, please forgive me for the times I lack passion in my walk with You. Help me to move in obedience no matter how I’m feeling at the time. Thank you for helping me transform my emotions and desires as I intentionally seek after You. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

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