I know… Spue doesn’t even seem like a word, right? I mean, maybe it should be spelled spew, or something. Well, the word spew is pretty close to the context of this writing, but spue is actually the word Jesus used to describe just how aggressively He will reject you!
- Wait… Jesus rejects people?
- Wait… Jesus isn’t patient, trusting, kind, compassionate?
- Wait… what the spue?
No… I didn’t misspell it just to get your attention. See, in Revelation 3:15-16, He said; “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth“. It is that word Spue that caught my eye, my ear, and my heart recently… I was thinking about the ‘So then’ part of this verse.. the verse begins with the word SO. I mean, ‘so’? So what? Well, I backed up just one verse and read, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.” He uses this two-three verse presentation several times in this chapter, so it is a recurring theme… hint… pay attention!
Now as much as I know about the Bible and God’s word, I still had to look up this spue word because I actually thought it was just an Old English version of the spew word… but the word spue is MUCH more aggressive and definitive than that. The dictionary actually described SPUE as;
Spue: [spyoo] to discharge the contents of the stomach through the mouth; vomit. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/spue
In the Greek, it is “emeo” (em-eh’-o), which is used as a verb and also means, “to vomit”.
It sure sounds the same as SPEW, but mercy… quite a different picture we have now! I mean, the word spew connotes having put something into your mouth to only spit it right back out (and sometimes quickly)… with that blargh sound, too! This spue word that Jesus uses is something much deeper… much more internal… and much more impacting on your body when it occurs. But, that is how Jesus spoke, that is how He taught, that is how He wordsmiths His phrases to help get our attention. See, to vomit something out of your body is much more than just ejecting something from your mouth. Sure, it goes through your mouth, but the journey began down in the stomach… down in the bowels, the abdomen, and the very core of your body as it were… down in the depths of your very life.
Now just imagine being out to dinner, or being at a camping picnic, or even just traveling abroad and ingesting something that is so good tasting… so filling… so comforting actually (like you just ate the best desert ever!). Unbeknownst to you, something bad was in that food that neither your tongue, your sense of smell, nor your taste-buds could detect. See… those senses help protect your life so that you don’t ingest something that can/will make you sick and cause you to die… but, they missed it this time… they didn’t catch the subtle and pending doom… they didn’t suspect a thing. Hence, your sense of fulfillment is well intact, for the time being! Whatever it was, it got past your senses and you’re none the wiser… nor do you care actually because that warm-n-fuzzy feeling was just so completing and so rewarding… all is right with the world, you think.
Some 3 or 4 hours later though, you are not feeling so well… things are brewing… festering… they’re fermenting, actually… causing tumult on your entire system and ultimately, those contents need to be ejected from your body. Otherwise, for them to remain there will poison you, will sicken you further, and in many cases kill you! Yes… this involuntary action of vomiting is your body’s way of protecting your very life. Sure, you fight it off, drink some water, lay down, settle yourself… who likes to puke anyway, right!??
The inevitable does finally occur and it IS quite a violent experience. Me?? I hate it! It feels like I will never get a clear airway again and get another breath of air. Literally, it is a gut-wrenching experience (I just had to… couldn’t help myself!).
Now… back to Jesus using this as a reference and picture to describe rejecting ‘lukewarm’ people. Why would he introduce this “you could be ejected” idea in Revelation? I mean, there’s always been this standing “once saved, always saved” argument, or the “my name is written permanently in the Book of Life”, or even the core ‘security of the believer’ promises we lean on…. Jesus even told us, “I’ll never leave you, nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). This event isn’t God changing His mind, it is not a ‘gotcha’ thing where you neglected to read the fine print in some buried scripture deep in the ‘boredom’ of the Book of Chronicles, or something like that.
This is actually God rejecting something from His body that will cause it harm. It was included into the body under ‘good faith’, but has since turned bad… turned destructive… turned poisonous actually. Leaving it there will cause the body to be sick, and may even cause it to die. He’s protecting His body, just like ours does involuntarily. Now, sure… this seems contrary to His grace… to His love… to His acceptance of us. I mean, WHY “let us in” if we have impurities, if we have a ‘virus’, or an ‘infection’? Seems like God is more perfect and much more thorough than that, right?
But, back up and look at the context of this entire chapter in Revelation Chapter 3. He’s going through several churches and pointing out that He ‘would’ that we were Hot OR Cold, but since they were lukewarm… spue goes you! YOU actually caused this tumult in His body… your indifference… your middle-of-the-road commitment… your “I’m just trying to keep the peace” way of compromise is despicable, even to God! Approaching His will in your life with an ‘Uhhh… does it matter, really?” posture is horrible. It is that “eh, no big deal” attitude that just sickens the Lord… Have a position! Have a perspective! Have a conviction!
So fundamentally, there are three types of people in God’s world and in His body (by reference in this passage): Hot, Cold, and Lukewarm. It is the Lukewarm ones who cause such a vicious and body-impacting event to occur…. sure, mainly the stomach and abdomen, but the rest of His body is doubled-over in turmoil… tossed into utter chaos, and involuntary convulsions… torn of almost all it’s contents to clear itself of this ‘bile’… this poison… this life threatening substance. All to protect His body, His very existence, His very peace and calm.
What determines the boundaries for Hot or Cold? And since there is a Lukewarm area, just how wide is it? Is it like a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) of a battle area, just how wide is it? I mean, back before Jesus gave us Salvation and His forgiving grace, there was only the Law (10 Commandments and more). The rules were documented and the consequences were much clearer (side note: not ONE person could follow all of them). This new ‘grace’ thing Jesus introduced back with the Disciple leaves life a little more ambiguous and open to interpretation! Now, we seem to have this Hot or Cold category, and apparently the Lukewarm one is frowned upon, at all!
Lukewarm can be characterized as; half-hearted, limp, ready to compromise, indifferent, listless, and ready to keep the peace, to name a few. Now, you may not see yourself in any of these descriptions… but still ARE a lukewarm spirit in the Lord! How? Because you are defending you! The Bible says, ‘…now we look through a glass darkly, but then face to face“. Too often, it is so deeply ingrained into our lives, we think and FEEL it is right, but it is wrong. I once Tweeted this, in response to that;
When you’ve been doing the wrong thing for so long it feels right, so much so that trying to do the right thing feels wrong; that is wrong.
— G.W. Bill Elliott Jr (@vocalbillity) December 27, 2017
Now, this is not a story about what you eat… it’s not an encouragement to watch your diet, to get all fanatic about organics, about ‘cage-free’, about locally grown products… see, the Bible reminds us in 1 Cor 10:23, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” You can eat what you want. You can live like you want. You can be like you want. Not everything you want is right (expedient), nor edify others around you (encourage them toward God).
Rather… this is a story about being in God’s body and keeping your life as pure, as holy, and as righteous as you can so-as to remain Hot… to remain fervent… to remain “on fire” with the Lord’s Holy Spirit in your life. No… you can NOT do it on your own. Man’s solutions to Man’s problems will always fall short. How, then? It would be great to have a manual, to have a trouble-shooting list, to have a formula, to have an On-Call place we can contact to ensure we remain on track, maybe even to logon to God’s “App Store” and install an Update or Hot-Fix, or even a Patch.
Wait… there are ALL of those! The Holy Spirit is available to use for these very reasons. Jesus left us the comforter for this very reason. We don’t have to do this on our own, or seek out some group-therapy process to get us closer to God… mercy, no!
Being Lukewarm is not something we strive to do, it is a result of what we’re too tired to do… a result of what we’re too weak to do… a result of what we’re too confused to do… a result of what our commitment to the Lord really means… not much! Spue You Go.
His Spirit was left here to help us, to meet with us, to guide us. The Holy Spirit is God’s way being being “closer than a brother”, and “coming alongside”, and even better, being that “small still voice” we sometimes like to call “gut feeling”.
How To Avoid/Repair Lukewarmness
OK, I did say there was not a manual… no formal directions… no “Hot Fix” patch from God’s App Store you can install to get back on the right track… and here I am about to show you how I do it! Well, this is how “I” keep my life fresh… how I keep my heart tender, ready, and alert for His calling on my heart (whispers of His leading) . On my “Where is Your Heart?” page, these three steps… these three core components set the stage for me and prepare my heart, my soul, my life for drawing closer to God, to Him drawing closer to me, and most critical, me getting farther away from Lukewarm, Surrender, Ask Him In, and Look for Gold;
- Surrender: Acknowledge your brokenness
Get rawly vulnerable with Him, show Him the secret of your heart. Now, that means you surrender your pride, your “I’m not that bad a person”, your posture of entitlement. He knows your every sin, He knows your every trouble, He knows your very secret secret! Just surrender and recognize that your fallibility is better than it was, but still tripping you up… still causing you trouble… still the core problem with your character. The first verse of this song from Jars of Clay states; “I am the only one to blame for this…
Just want to want Him!
Please do NOT approach God with that whole, “I need help” nonsense! Sure, He does want to help you…. sure, He is able to help you… sure, He died to help you! Way too often, we reach out to God WHEN calamity occurs.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to ‘dust your furniture’
Do NOT stop after that first step! Sure, you can but don’t! See… confession… surrender… opening yourself up like that IS healthy… is healing… is so cleansing. But, unless you let the Holy Spirit get in there and ‘blow out the dust’ and take up residence in your heart, you WILL be worse on than before!
Understand, this is the “where the rubber meets the road” part of your living. It can be tough, it can be challenging, it can be so hard you will wish (and may even try) to stop, to no longer trust the Lord, to throw it all away. The children of Israel did the very same thing just days after they were led out of captivity from Egypt (that thing Moses did)… they were facing their first “looks impossible” challenge at the banks of the Jordan river… no way to cross, and the Egyptian soldiers now chasing after them (they figured out they lost their work-force), and they urged Moses to lead them back, because “…at least we had food and shelter there“.
Let His Holy Spirit move through your life… blowing out the dust within!
- Recognize the Gold
God will reward you through your cleansing…. through your trials… through the turmoil, anguish, and utter pain. But, remember.. you had all those before starting your journey with God, right! Just… no real reward. Sure… self-satisfaction, accolades from humanity, maybe. But, all of those are superficial… all of those are man-made, and will never be remembered into eternity!
God leaves nuggets of gold in your life… the fire has burned the useless stuff away… and there is a shiny nugget or two left!
But, the trying of your faith produces patience. This world of instant gratification has numbed us to His ways… to try our faith over and again… taking time to groom us, to mature us, to lead us to that special Will of His for our lives.
Now all that may seem like nonsense… like it is easier said than done.. like I am just guilting you into action. Somehow, we’d rather download an app, inject or ingest some medication, or even just ‘change the channel’ and move on to something else that will get us the gratification we seek. Please take some time to read The Deep End of the Pool, and you’ll have a better idea just what is intended.
But, at least ‘start’… at least turn your eyes to Him and no longer remain in the Lukewarm side of life… the middle-of-the-road, complacent, agreeable, devil-may-care attitude with God… with life… and yes, with death itself!