"Passion" ... I have been looking at that word on a church sign down the road for the past few weeks (the sign on the building we used to be in). Actually, the sign says, PASSION. So, I read that as saying, "Passion" - period. But passion for what? Maybe you have to go inside to find out. But what does it mean to have passion - a passion that honors God?
What do you do when you have a day when your "passion," your zeal for life seems to have run out? As a pastor, that's not supposed to happen to me - so people think. But it does; and it usually happens when I'm dealing with people! That may like a dangerous admission, but it's true. People have a way of draining the life out of you. It happens at home, it happens at work, it happens at church ... Everybody has their struggles, everybody has their frustrations, everybody has their disappointments. It's called "LIFE!"
Still, God gives us some much needed instruction for days and times when our passion for HIM and for serving others seems to have run out. It's found in Romans 12:9-21. I won't quote the whole passage, but I encourage you to read it - more than once, and to make these verses part of your foundation for living.
Paul writes, "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." Love for God and for others comes from the work of God's Spirit when we focus on serving Christ. One of my grandchildren didn't want to pick up some things at our house recently, and their reasoning went like this: "I didn't get it out." My immediate response was: "Jesus didn't sin, but He went to the cross for you." Now, that may have been more direct than I needed to be at that moment, but it made the point. We are servants of Jesus Christ. When people seem hard to love or even to tolerate, we need to remember God's grace to us and we need to be "grace-givers."
True "passion" must arise out of our desire to please God, loving Him because He first loved us. Anything less is selfishness. At the end of these verses, in verse 21, Paul writes, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." There is a lot of evil in the world and it is easy to get drawn into the devil's scheme to make us angry at others and even to hate (strongly dislike) others. If our zeal for God is lacking, our zeal for loving others will be lacking, too. We can't afford to let that happen. We are called to be the "light of the world," and if we don't shine Christ's light, the rest of the world will remain in the darkness.
When you feel like your passion for pleasing God is at low tide, read these words, be encouraged by Jesus' example, who loved you and gave Himself for you. As His disciple, you are called to do likewise!