Years ago I read a book by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale entitled Enthusiasm Makes the Difference. In it Peale presents the thesis that while life is full of disappointments, discouragements and challenges, the one ingredient that can make the difference between success and failure is enthusiasm.
“Think excitement, talk excitement, act out of excitement, and you are bound to become an excited person,” writes Dr. Peale. “Life will take on a new zest, deeper interests and greater meaning. You can talk, think, and act yourself into dullness and into monotony or into unhappiness. By the same process you can build up inspiration, excitement and a surging depth of joy.”
While the word enthusiasm is not specifically used in the Bible it is composed of two Greek words en theos which means “God in us” or “full of God.” The Bible says we are created in the image of God and after His likeness. (Gen 1:26). Jehovah is a God of great passion, energy, and zeal. As His offspring, we should be like Him.
If there is any group of people who should be joyous, passionate and enthusiastic about life, it ought to be Christians. There are many Bible passages that speak to living life and serving God with enthusiasm.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Eccl. 9:12)
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Col. 3:23).
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11).
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mk. 12:30).
“ Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Cor 9:24).
“Be zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14).
Dozens more passages exhort us to live with the great enthusiasm of joy, delight and pleasure in serving God and our fellow-man.
Actually “enthusiasm is nothing more or less than faith in action,” wrote Henry Chester. Faith in what you are doing and pursuing generates an enthusiastic attitude. From a spiritual perspective is it our faith in God and in His Word that ought to propel us to greater heights and more fruitful fields.
However, as one unknown author put it, “No one keeps up his enthusiasm automatically.” It must be renewed. Revived. Regenerated. Gary Henry in WordPoints wrote, “enthusiasm must be nourished with new actions, new aspirations, new efforts, new vision.”
Too often our enthusiasm is limited to sporting events, hobbies, vacations or other personal activities. Let’s learn to tap into our inner most being and spark a spiritual enthusiasm for the things of God. Things that will transform the soul. Change lives. And last for all of eternity.
Our enthusiasm must be channeled by Truth, directed by discipline, and governed by the Gospel. Otherwise, it has the potential to become misdirected and do more harm than good.
All personal achievement, spiritual progress or church growth is fueled by enthusiasm. Emerson was right when he wrote, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman