March Madness is here with its passion, enthusiasm, borderline crazy fans, and its exuberant color commentators.
If you watch any of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament over the past few days, you know what I’m talking about.
We had to listen to a few games on the radio while driving home, and those announcers know how to colorfully describe the game to make it come alive.
If you’ve ever attended a tournament game the atmosphere is electric. The fans, coaches, cheerleaders, bands, and players are excited about the game of basketball.
As we continue our Monday thoughts of areas in which we could use a spiritual renewal, the emotion of enthusiasm is at the top of our list. Wouldn’t it be great to get some Christians as excited about the Lord’s mission, message, and ministry as they are about a basketball game?
Now, I don’t mean in rowdy, rah-rah, raucous, or irreverent kind of outburst in worship. But in an earnest, eager and energetic focus, commitment, and devotion for spiritual matters.
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.
Secular writers realize the value of enthusiasm to achieve success in life. Norman Vincent Peale opined that “Enthusiasm spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.”
W. Clement Stone observed, “No matter how carefully you plan your goals, they will never be more than pipe dreams unless you pursue them with gusto.”
President Dwight Eisenhower colorfully expressed the value of enthusiasm this way. “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.”
“A man can succeed at almost anything for which he has unlimited enthusiasm,” concluded Charles Schwab.
And Walter Chrysler sums it up succinctly when he wrote, “The real secret of success is enthusiasm.”
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. My friend and preaching colleague Gary Henry wrote in WordPoints, “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 innermost 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