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21 Characteristics of Lukewarm People

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

21 Characteristics of Lukewarm People

by Rick Ezell

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! ...you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold" (Rev. 3:15, 16 NIV).

Jesus is saying that rather than "hot" or its synonym found in verse 19 "earnest" there is lukewarmness. William Hendriksen describes the condition: "The people of Laodicea were lukewarm, tepid, flabby, half-hearted, limp, always ready to compromise, indifferent, listless: that ‘we're-all-good-people-here-in-Laodicea‘ attitude." Shockingly, Jesus prefers coldness to lukewarmness.

How can you tell if a person is lukewarm?

Here are twenty-one characteristics of lukewarm people.
 (Most of these are from Francis Chan in his book Crazy Love).

1. Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them; it is what they believe "good Christians" do, so they go. Isaiah 29:13.

2. Lukewarm people give money to charity and to the church as long as it doesn't intrude on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so, After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right? 1 Chronicles 21:24, Luke 21:1-4.

3. Lukewarm people crave acceptance. They tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives. Luke 6:26, Revelation 3:1, Matthew 23:5-7 4.

4. Lukewarm people don't really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don't genuinely hate sin and aren't truly sorry for it; they're merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm people don't really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one. Consequently, they tolerate and rationalize unconfessed sin. John 10:10, Romans 6:1-2.

5. Lukewarm people are moved by stories of people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. They assume such action is for "extreme" Christians, not average ones. Lukewarm people call "radical" what Jesus expected of all his followers. James 1:22, James 4:17, Matthew 21:28-31.

6. Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. They do not want to be rejected, nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion. Matthew 10:32-33.

7. Lukewarm people gauge their morality or "goodness" by comparing themselves to the secular world. They feel satisfied that while they aren't as hard-core for Jesus as so-and-so, they are nowhere as horrible as the guy down the street. Luke 18:11-12.

8. Lukewarm people say they love Jesus, and he is, indeed, a part of their lives, their money, and their thoughts, but he isn't allowed to control their lives. They have changed the words of their favorite hymn from "Take My Life and Let It Be" to "Take My Life and Let Me Be." Luke 9:57-62.

9. Lukewarm people love God, but they do not love him with all their heart, soul, and strength. They would be quick to assure you they try to love God that much, but that sort of total devotion isn't really possible for the average person; its only for pastors and missionaries and radicals. Matthew 22:37-38.

10. Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. Their love for others is typically focused on those who love them in return, like family, friends, and other people they know and connect with. Little love is left over for those who cannot love them back, much less for those who intentionally slight them, whose kids are better athletes than theirs, or with whom conversations are awkward or uncomfortable. Their love is highly conditional and very selective, and generally comes with strings attached. Matthew 5:43-47, Luke 14:12-14.

11. Lukewarm people, in many respects, are practical atheists. While they believe in God they live as though God does not exist. They do not consult with him much less follow his leading.

12. Lukewarm people think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven. Daily life is mostly focused on today's to-do list, this week's schedule, and next month's vacation. Rarely, if ever do they intently consider the life to come. In fact, they are prone to say when asked "How are you doing?" "Not well, but better than the alternative," as though the alternative of sending eternity with Jesus is worse than life on this planet. Philippians 3:18-20.

13. Lukewarm people are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor. Matthew 25:34, 40, Isaiah 58:6-7.

14. Lukewarm people do whatever is necessary to alleviate their guilt. They want to do the bare minimum, to be "good enough" without requiring too much of them. 1 Chronicles 29:14, Matthew 13:44-46.

15. Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control. This focus on safe living keeps them sacrificing and risking for God. Matthew 10:28.

16. Lukewarm people feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at age twelve, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America.

17. Luke warm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. They don't have to trust God if something unexpected happens-they have their savings account. They don't need God to help them-they have their retirement plan in place. They don't genuinely seek out what life God would have them live-they have life figured and mapped out. They don't depend on God on a daily basis-their refrigerators are full and, for the most part, they are in good health. The truth is, their lives wouldn't look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God. Luke 12:16-21.

18. Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren't very different from your typical unbeliever. They equate their partially sanitized lives with holiness, but they couldn't be more wrong. Matthew 23:25-28, Luke 14:34-35.

19. Lukewarm people pray more in public and when called upon than they do in private. Prayer means little to them. If it means anything to them it is a help line to God when things go wrong in their lives not a private conversation to know the God of the Universe.

20. Lukewarm people rarely read the Bible. They have plenty in their homes, mind you, but they seldom pick it up to read, let alone study or meditate on or follow its commands.

21. Lukewarm people get upset about the little stuff while being unconcerned about the big issues. In other words, they will get angry over being personally inconvenienced-especially at church-while indifferent to the plights of injustice, ethnic cleansing, and racial hatred that exist in the world.

What's frightening about these statements
 is that many of those statements apply to me.
And, if we are honest, they apply to most people
 in our churches who call themselves Christians.
At times I am lukewarm. Are you?

Francis Chan in his book Crazy Love adds: "As I see it, a Lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there's no such thing. To put it plainly, church goers who are lukewarm are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven." That's a frightening thought.

*as seen in Rick Ezell's "One Minute Uplift" weekly email devotional.
Dr. Ezell is pastor of First Baptist Church in Greer, South Carolina.

Shared in firstIMPRESSIONS newsletter - Volume 10.46

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