Stay Warm

Matthew 24:12 – And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
The gospel always overpowers the creeping chill.
     It looks like we are headed into some “winter weather” for the third week in a row here in central Virginia. To be honest, we have fairly mild winters around this area, but these long stretches of cold, damp, dark days seem to wear on our patience as we look toward spring. There is a deeper chill that begins to set in, and “staying warm” climbs upward on our list of priorities. Fireplaces begin to crackle. Sweaters, coats, and extra socks are pulled from the closet, and we find ourselves facing some extra tasks to manage snow, ice, and frigid temperatures.
     I typically spend a lot of time outside during the winter months with hobbies of hunting and jogging, and I have learned an important lesson about the cold. “You don’t stay warm by accident.” It takes planning, attention, and work. Layering properly, preparing gear, having the right supplies, and consistently adding wood to the fire become a necessity. It has always amazed me to think of people enduring long winters two-thousand years ago without the modern amenities afforded to us. For us, staying warm may be an inconvenience, but for past generations, it was a matter of life and death.
      The spiritual climate of this world is constantly changing, and we find ourselves in a culture that can be damp and dark toward the things of God. The year 2020 felt like one very long winter at times. The sickness, loneliness, and issues we found confronting us presented a challenge in our efforts to fight off a spiritual chill.
     One of the greatest dangers of severe cold is that it can damage you before you realize something is wrong. The early effects of frostbite and hypothermia are seldom noticed right away. The same is true spiritually. If we are not attentive to “tending the fire” of our spiritual lives, cold and sickness can set in quickly. In Matthew 24, Jesus was describing the last days that His followers would face on this earth. One of the descriptions He gave comes in verse 12: “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” If we do not give care to the “warmth” of our spiritual lives, the cold can overwhelm. Jesus left us with a challenge in verse 13: “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

     We are called to endure, to work, to stay warm. We must tend to the fire of our faith-filled love for God. We must remain engaged and undistracted in our walk with the Lord. Spiritual coldness is a quiet assassin. Sometimes when we are faced with “long winters” in our spiritual lives, the temptation is to hunker down and hold on. This is a good way to freeze to death! We must get up, get dressed, chop the wood, and tend to the fire of our spiritual lives.

     Get close to the source of warmth and encourage yourself in His Word. Remain active in fervent prayer and praise to the Lord. Pay attention to your spiritual senses as the Holy Spirit guides or sounds the alarm in your heart. Allow your affections to be stirred for Christ in the fellowship, love, and community of other believers. God has called you to delight in Him. He is your ultimate satisfaction regardless of the physical or spiritual season of life in which you have found yourself.

I hope you will find encouragement in these lines by John Newton:1

Dear Lord, if indeed I am Thine,
If Thou art my sun and my song;
Say, why do I languish and pine,
And why are my winters so long?
O drive these dark clouds from my sky,
Thy soul-cheering presence restore;
Or take me unto Thee on high,
Where winter and clouds are no more.

The gospel always overpowers the creeping chill.

– Pastor James Sumpter

1 “None Upon Earth I Desire Beside Thee” The Works of John Newton, Vol. 3, 358.