Summary: Four causes of the things that cause us to lose our spiritual zeal!!!
How to Prevent Spiritual Burnout!
Romans chapter 12 begins with a stern admonition for believers to submit themselves to God by living sacrificially, as living sacrifices, dedicated to serving God and avoiding conformity to the world. Paul encourages the believers in Rome to have a radical change in the way that they think in order to discover God’s will for their spiritual walk. Then he goes on to give them a number of instructions about using their spiritual gifts, having real and sincere love, and then, tucked in the middle of this passage about brotherly love and living in harmony with those around us—we read:
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”
First, I believe I should approach this verse from its context. Before verse 11 verse 9 tells us to have sincere love. Verse 10 says to demonstrate brother love by honoring others above ourselves. Verse 13 says to share to share with God’s people who are in need. Verse 14 tells us to bless those who curse us. Verse 15 encourages us to be sympathetic to both the hurts and joys of others. Verse 16 tells us to live in harmony with one another and to avoid class divisions based on wealth or social status. Verse 17 tell us not to repay evil with evil. Verse 18 says we are to make EVERY EFFORT to live at peace with others.
BASED on the context—I would say that one of the biggest factor that causes us to lose our spiritual fervor is the behavior and conduct of other believers. When we see that they aren’t doing the right thing sometimes it takes the wind out of our spiritual sails. They may have hurt us, they may not have obeyed the commands placed before us here, and that causes us to sometimes lose our own enthusiasm for serving the Lord.
CAUSE OF SPIRITUAL DISCOURAGEMENT # 1 The bad behavior and poor conduct of others in the family of God.
Elijah was spiritually discouraged when he ran from Jezebel. As he crosses the desert, trying to get as far away from her threats, he prays for death to come upon him. He tells God he has had enough. An angel provides him with food and water and he continues his journey. Then he meets God at the cave of Horeb and God asks the all important question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” If you read this story, you will find Elijah answers God in what I believe is sort of a whiney, beat-down, totally discouraged and disheartened voice. He tells God, and I’m paraphrasing a bit loosely, “I’ve been really on fire for you, Lord, but I’m the only one left. Nobody else is serving you and the task is just too big for me to do alone!” God calls Elijah outside and shows him a whirlwind, a fire, and a great earthquake, but his voice isn’t in any of those things. Then a still, small voice asks Elijah once more, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah repeats, word for word, the same speech he gave inside the cave. God then tells him that there are thousands who have remained faithful and instructs Elijah in the next steps of his ministry, anointing several kings, etc.
Several points about discouragement/spiritual burnout arise from that story. First, Elijah really thought that the Mt. Carmel fire-from-heaven experience would turn Israel back towards Jehovah. He was shocked that Jezebel still had the nerve to stand against God’s prophet. Instead of Israel returning to God, Jezebel still had the power to stand up against Elijah and so he became discouraged.
CAUSE OF SPIRITUAL DISCOURAGEMENT # 2 Not seeing the results that we expected
I have always been impressed with the response of God’s people in the book of Acts when Peter and John return from their confrontation with the leaders at the temple following the healing of the crippled man at the beautiful gate. There is a prayer recorded there in Acts chapter 4. The people ask God for strength to continue standing up for Him in the fact of opposition. They go to God in prayer and rather than seeking the overthrow of the powers that threatened them, they asked God to take note of the persecution, but focused on what they already knew they were supposed to be doing.
CAUSE OF SPIRITUAL DISCOURAGEMENT # 3 Failing to seek God’s direction in the face of opposition
Elijah failed to seek God’s direction before taking off into the desert. If he had prayed about the situation in Samaria, God would have told him right off that there were still those who remained faithful and given him the same instructions he received at Mt. Horeb. Elijah became discouraged because he did not present his discouragement to God immediately and seek God’s direction.