Most everyone knows the haunting verse in Revelation 3:16: So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. If you have ever read that verse before, you have caught yourself wondering, “Is this me?”
Many sermons have been preached attempting to explain the meaning. I’m not here to discuss how to be a healing “hot water” Christian or a refreshing “cold water” Christian. I’m not here to explain the imagery behind Jesus’ vomit really means. All I care about and what you should care about is having a right relationship with the one who created you and loves you deeply.
As Christians, we should heed Paul’s warning in 2 Corinthians 13:5: “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”
In chapter 4 of Francis Chan’s modern day classic Crazy Love, we find a thorough examination. While I don’t believe this test to be infallible, I find it extremely helpful and thought-provoking. It has convicted me and led me to love God more and more. I hope it can do the same for you.
So here are Chan’s 18 ways to know if you are lukewarm:
1) Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe “good Christians” do, so they go.
And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote. Isaiah 29:13
2) Lukewarm people give money to charity and to the church…as long as it doesn’t impinge 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?
But King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will buy them for the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” 1 Chronicles 21:24
And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4
3) Lukewarm people 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 heart and lives.
Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. Luke 6:26
I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Revelation 3:1
But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. “They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. Matthew 23:5-7
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.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Romans 6:1-2
5) Lukewarm people are moved by stories about 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.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17
“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ “And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. “The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go. “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Matthew 21:28-31
6) Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. They do not want to be rejected, not do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion.
“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. “But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. 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.
The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ Luke 18:11-12
8) Lukewarm people say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives. But only a part. They give Him a section of their lives, their money, and their thoughts, but He isn’t allowed to control their lives.
As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” 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 that they try to love God that much, but that sort of total devotion isn’t really possible for the average person; it’s only for pastors and missionaries and radicals.
And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ Matthew 22:37-38
10) Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. Their love of others is typically focused on those who love them in return, like family, friends, and other people they know and connect with. There is little love 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.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Matthew 5:43-47
And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:12-14
11) Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give.
And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! “For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:21-25
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 even, do they intently consider the life to come. Regarding this, C.S. Lewis writes, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”
For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ… Philippians 3:18-20
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2
13) Lukewarm people are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor. They are quick to point out, “Jesus never said money is the root of all evil, only that the love of money is.” Untold numbers of lukewarm people feel “called” to minister to the rich; very few feel “called” to minister to the poor.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:34, 40
“Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke? “Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Isaiah 58:6-7
14) Lukewarm people do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty. They want to do the bare minimum, to be “good enough” without it requiring too much of them. They ask “How far can I go before it’s considered a sin?” instead of “How can I keep myself pure as a temple of the Holy Spirit?” They ask, “How much do I have to give?” instead of “How much can I give?” They ask “How much time should I spend praying and reading my Bible?” instead of “I wish I didn’t have to go to work, so I could sit here and read longer!”
But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! 1 Chronicles 29:14
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. 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 from sacrificing and risking for God.
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. 1 Timothy 6:17-19
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 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. Just as the prophets in the Old Testament warned Israel that they were not safe just because they lived in the land of Israel, so we are not safe just because we wear the label Christian or because some people persist in calling us a “Christian nation.”
Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. Matthew 7:21
“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes! Amos 6:1
17) Lukewarm 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.
And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. “And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward 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.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. “You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:25-28
So are you lukewarm?