About 2000 years ago, Christ wrote to the ecclesia at Laodicea and said, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth” (Rev 3:15,16). This attitude of apathy well describes our day. Is our own enthusiasm for the Truth waning and are worldly pursuits taking the place of spiritual activities? Do we consider our attendance at many ecclesial events as optional, or is it altogether nonexistent? Rather than allowing our attitude towards the Truth to become apathetic, we need to be like those in Malachi 3:16, who spake often to one another of spiritual things, building up and encouraging each other in a time when only a small remnant remained faithful. It is highly unlikely that reference was made to the faithful remnant because they spake often to each other of sport, the latest movies or what they did on the weekend, but rather because they were keeping a spiritual focus in an age of apathy and indifference. We are living in a similar time and perhaps we should consider where our focus is? How are we spending our time? Are we building God’s house or our own?

Someone (Bro Bennett) once said, “Enthusiasm is not the same as just being excited. One gets excited about going on a roller coaster. One becomes enthusiastic about creating and building a roller coaster”. The purpose of this quote is to illustrate that enthusiasm requires personal involvement – we will never get really enthusiastic about something we aren’t prepared to put effort into. This same principle applies to our involvement in ecclesial life.

The people in Haggai’s day were apathetic and self-focused, yet within the 3 months of Haggai’s prophecy, they had been stirred up and became enthused about the work of building the House of Yahweh. We are, without a doubt, living in the last days and as a result we need to be encouraging one another and building each other up as the spiritual house of God (1 Thess 5:11; 2 Cor 6:16).

In order to be enthusiastic we need to have something to be enthusiastic about – we need a common goal or focus. The big picture goal we are all striving towards is the Kingdom of God, but along the way there are many smaller goals we can focus on to help us, such as teaching Sunday School, visiting the sick, preaching, studying the Word and sharing it with others.

If we can learn one thing from the life of Hezekiah, it’s this: enthusiasm is contagious. In 16 days, with God’s blessing, Hezekiah turned around the nation and brought them back to worshipping Yahweh. He was a king who led by example and involved others (2 Chron 29:4,20,23); he caused those present at the Passover to return home full of spiritual enthusiasm, so that they continued to live the spirit of the Passover in their own towns (2 Chron 31:1). Following the pattern of Hezekiah, we also have the potential to be examples of enthusiasm and encouragement to others in the time we have remaining. In summary, then: what is enthusiasm, in a practical sense? It is the need to be personally involved in our ecclesias, whether we are visiting the elderly, working on a committee or washing the wine cups, we need to follow the principle Paul showed in Colossians 3:23 “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men”.

Another interesting factor about enthusiasm is, that if it is to last, it must be shared with others. We all have a need to make sure we’re spending time with those who will encourage us spiritually and in turn our company can motivate others to keep their spiritual fire burning.

There is a story of a brother who stopped coming along to the meetings. After some time, another brother stopped by and visited him and they sat down together in front of the lounge room fire, neither one able to think of something to say. After a while the visiting brother picked up the tongs from by the replace and pulled out a coal from the fire and placed it on the hearth. After a few minutes the coal went from glowing bright orange to being a dull grey colour, the brother then replaced the coal in the fire, after a few minutes it started to glow brightly again. The next Sunday, the absent brother was once again at the meeting.

The point of this story is, it is very difficult to keep the fire of the Truth burning in us if we are in the darkness of the world with no one around us to help keep us burning, and so we need to be enthusiastic examples to each other, using our time wisely to build up one another as we await the return of our Bridegroom. “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Heb 10:24,25).