The term, lukewarm, is a fairly common term in Christian religious circles. It is found only once in scripture and is from Revelations 3:16. It was used by Christ in reference to the spiritual condition of the church of the Laodiceans. He said to them: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
We all probably know what “spue” means. When you get a bad taste of something you spit with a blowing motion from your mouth in order to expel the thing causing the offending taste as fast as possible. A few days ago I went to a Japanese restaurant which is a fairly new experience for me. I usually shy away from exotic places because I like the tried and true when it comes to eating. I had my first experience of tasting wasabi sauce. If the Leodicean Church tasted to Christ like the wasabi did to me I can wholeheartedly concur with Him about the spueing out of the mouth. It was nauseas indeed.
Lukewarm means tepid or room temperature and is very disapproving to the taste buds when it comes to drinking water, coffee, and etc. Cold or hot is better as allowed by Christ. Lukewarm things can cause one to become sick. Another definition for lukewarm is half-heartedness. This is the definition that fits the biblical meaning more accurately. Christ is saying that He prefers for us to be spiritually hot or cold. When we are hot we are in tune with Him. When we are cold, He can work with us through conviction to draw us out of our cold careless condition. But when we are lukewarm, (half-hearted) we tend to think that all is well as the Leodicians did and not realize our need to move up a little closer to Christ.
He revealed to the Church at Leodicea their true condition in verse 17; “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” He counseled them “…to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” We are not told if they repented and made things right but we hope they did.
We, like the Leodiceans, can be lukewarm without realizing it. Here are some ways we may be considered to be lukewarm. We are lukewarm when we are more concerned with self and this earthly life than we are with God and spiritual things. The prophet Haggai asked: “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house [the House of God] lie waste?” (Hag. 1:4). We are lukewarm when we find that it is more appealing to stay home or go elsewhere instead of faithfully attending the house of God. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Heb.10:25). We are lukewarm when we go through the motions of serving the Lord so we can be counted faithful when our hearts are not in it. If, for example, when we would rather be home watching a game than attending our regularly scheduled worship service, revealing that our priorities are out of order. “Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play” (1 Cor. 10:7). We are lukewarm when souls (both ours and others) are not the most important burden of our hearts. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26). The foregoing examples of lukewarmness merely scratch the surface. After an honest evaluation of ourselves in fervent prayer with an open Bible before us, each individual can, no doubt, add other things to this list.
Because God loves each of us and desires that we come into His image, when He sees the lukewarm conditions some have fallen into, He sends conviction upon us to draw us away from our own priorities and back into an intimate relationship with Him; the kind of relationship we will experience when we all come into one accord in preparing ourselves for His soon coming. As the Holy Ghost pricks our hearts over our lukewarmness, may we lend a listening ear to the Spirit as He speaks to us and draw away from the beggarly elements of this world and back into the red hot spiritual relationship where He desires us to be. “Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation…..To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts…” (Heb. 3:8, 15).