My grandmother used the word ‘tepid’ to describe the temperature of a drink or a person’s demeaner. It seems the word has fallen out of general use since her generation has passed. Recently, I came across the word ‘tepidity’. It is a version of the word grandma used. Tepidity means: Moderately warm; lukewarm; lacking in emotional warmth or enthusiasm; halfhearted.
Because I have been involved in Christian ministry for 62 years, much of what I hear or see filters through that screen. A well-known scripture immediately came to mind, “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” (Revelation 3:15-16, NKJV).
A little insight concerning the context of this scripture may prove helpful. The historic and geographic context concerns the water supply in the area referred to in this scripture. In all likelihood, the word “hot” refers to the well-known medicinal waters of Hierapolis, whose hot springs reached 95 degrees. The word “cold”, on the other hand, points to the refreshing waters of Colossae.
If this is what Jesus had in mind, the church is not being called to task so much for its spiritual temperature but for the barrenness of its works. The church was providing neither refreshment for the spiritually weary (portrayed through the imagery of “cold” water from Colossae), nor healing for the spiritually sick (portrayed through the imagery of “hot” water from Hierapolis). The church was simply ineffective and thus distasteful to the Lord.
Is tepidity a curse of the Church of our day? In our dry thirsty world, what are we doing to slack the thirst of desperate people? Proverbs 25:25 speaks of “cold waters to a thirsty soul”. Oh, how our world needs the cool, refreshing drink of the living water which is Christ Jesus.
Has there ever been a day more in need of the healing for the sin sick soul? Like the ‘hot medicinal waters of Hierapolis’ were believed to heal the body, the touch of Jesus can heal the spiritually sick. That’s the beautiful message in the old spiritual “There Is A Balm In Gilead”:
There is a balm in Gilead,
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead,
To heal the sin-sick soul.
The tepidity of many modern churches, like the Laodicean Church, is repulsive to the Lord. He is surely calling churches and individuals to “anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:18-19, NKJV). We are called to see the sin-sick and spiritually thirsty and then minister to them.
Prayer: Lord, I want to be either hot or cold as you desire. Please help me to not be a lukewarm Christian. I don’t want to be tepid.
~ Brother Roy