What single word best describes your walk with the Lord?
I think all of us would love for that word to be passion. And not just today, but every day. We’d like consistent passion in our walk with God.
Yet, if we’re honest, we’d have to admit that our passion for the Lord easily wanes.
What is it that steals or diminishes our passion?
It’s not always (or usually) the blatant, outward sins. The enemy is usually more concealed than we anticipate. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I can suggest four common enemies of a passionate walk with Christ.
Sin is the most obvious reason our passion might wane, but it is not always the most obvious problem. Not when it comes to our own hearts anyway.
We’re pretty good at excusing, rationalizing, or compartmentalizing our sin. Satan is deceptive, and we are often blinded to the cause and effect relationship of sin in weakening our passion for Christ.
This is why we need to ask the Lord to search our hearts, allow Him to show us any “wicked way,” and then yield to Him as He leads us forward in grace.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.—Psalms 139:23–24
Fear of Man
When we obsess over what everybody (or frankly, anybody) thinks about us or our work, we forget to consider what God thinks.
If we live for the approval of others, we become preoccupied with our image. If we live for God’s pleasure alone, we are free to walk with Him passionately.
The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.—Proverbs 29:25
Preoccupation with Peripheral Issues
I think one of the most subtle dangers of becoming an issue-orientated person is the distraction from personally following Jesus passionately.
Obviously, everybody is going to define “peripheral” differently. The point here is not that these are unimportant issues, but that they are not central issues. In other words, do you want the issue to be what defines your life? If not, beware that you are not becoming preoccupied with it to the exclusion of seeking God and setting your affections on Him.
Peripheral issues do have their place, and some are needful to address. But when they preoccupy our minds and eat away at our passion for God, they become an enemy.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.—Colossians 3:1–2
Overemphasis on Building a Work Rather Than Being a Man of God
God made us human beings, not merely human doings. I believe in passionately serving the Lord. But if we emphasize what we do over who we are, we won’t be continually growing in the likeness of Christ.
I’m grateful God has called me to labor together with Him in building a work. But I don’t want to become so consumed with the work, that I forget Him. I want to be consumed with Jesus.
I don’t think you can read Paul’s epistles and miss the intensity with which he labored. He poured his heart, soul, and energy into serving the Lord—preaching the gospel, leading people to Christ, planting churches, discipling young Christians. All the things that those of us in the ministry want to do. And he did it all with passion.
But there is something else you can’t miss about Paul: his greatest passion wasn’t his work, but his walk with Christ.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;—Philippians 3:10
The danger of each of these enemies is their very subtlety. Every one of them can creep into our thoughts and embed themselves into our hearts before we’re even aware.
As you begin this week, I’d like to encourage you to refocus your priorities and affections on the Lord. Take a few minutes alone with Him asking Him to search your heart for any of these (or other) enemies of your walk with Him.
While all four of these enemies can consume our focus, none of them can fill our hearts. Only Jesus can do that.