And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. - Acts 18:24-25
On Sunday morning, my pastor preached a compelling message on Apollos and his admirable traits--traits that we, as Christians, should be emulating. I'd love to give you the entire outline, but that's not what the Lord has laid on my heart this morning. Instead, I would like to share with you the part of the message that, once again, had me squirming in my seat.
In verse 25 where it says Apollos was "fervent in the spirit," that word fervent literally means boiling. Boiling in the spirit. On fire for the Lord. Running over with His goodness. The pastor even likened it to a tea kettle that whistles when it's at full boil, equating it to how when our spirits come to a full boil, we'll make some noise about it too.
To be honest, I was already a little squirmy because I knew that my attitude over the past week was certainly not boiling over with the spirit. But then, when the pastor mentioned the tea kettle, I nearly broke into sobs because as soon as I pictured that tea kettle in my mind, instead of envisioning my Christ-like spirit, I saw my bad attitude. Yes, I regretfully had to admit to myself and to the Lord that the only thing that had been boiling over last week was my temper.
I was discouraged by the long, long hours Jason was having to put in at work. I was resentful that I didn't get to see him much at all last week. I was fed up with having to do all the housework and dog care and everything else by myself because he wasn't home long enough to help. I was frustrated with the washing machine that is still dancing its way across the laundry room on a daily basis. And I was angry with God for not answering my prayers the way I wanted Him to and for not making life a little easier on me. I'm ashamed to say, I was bitter and miserable! Boiling over with the spirit? Not even close! Spoiled brat is more like it.
Funny how we can think we're finally maturing spiritually, then something happens, and we find ourselves right back in our childish temper-tantrum stage. Fortunately, God is patient and gracious. There are so many ways He could have responded to my sour attitude. So many ways He could have gotten my attention and "slapped" some sense back into me. But in His great love and mercy, He reached out to me with the power of His Word. With a single phrase, He pointed out the error of my ways and reminded me that that type of behavior is unacceptable for a child of God. And then He continued His teaching by showing me what I needed to do to change.
The Lord and I had a nice, long chat this morning during my prayer walk, and we were able to work out some of the wrinkles that had formed in my heart and mind. And because of that, I was able to begin the day boiling over, not with a temper this time, but with the spirit. There is a smile on my face and peace in my heart, not because everything is great, but because the Lord has reminded me that there is a power within me that is greater than any obstacle I may face. And I can have access to that power at any time if I'll only claim it. With that strength, I am refreshed and renewed.
Maybe you know exactly where I'm coming from. Perhaps you, too, can relate better to a boiling temper than a boiling spirit. If so, take heart. If there's hope for me, there's hope for you too. I know it can often seem like life throws more at us than we can bear, but keep in mind that we don't have to bear those burdens alone. For those of us who are saved, we have access to the power of God, and with that power, nothing can stand in our way. So, when life makes you want to scream, instead of wasting your energy on that boiling temper, use that energy to stoke the fires of your soul. After all, a boiling spirit can accomplish far more than a boiling temper. . . and it makes you feel a lot better too.