By Wayne Clapp
Enthusiasm— it’s one of the greatest words in the English language–a personal favorite!
My dictionary defines it as: “an absorbing or controlling occupation of the mind by any interest or pursuit.”
It brings many images to my mind, none of which are marked by indifference. Enthusiasm is derived from two little Greek words, en [in] and theos [God].
It was used archaically of extravagant or unbalanced religious fervor. My dictionary also lists as an obsolete usage, “inspiration by a god.”
Rev. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s take on it was that nothing great was ever achieved without it. Although you won’t find it in your King James Version, the KJV does use several synonyms like: zeal, fervent, fury, and a personal favorite from Psalm 119, whole-hearted-ness.
However, it does appear in other versions. Here’s a sampling of them from 2 Corinthians.
II Corinthians 7:11 ISV
See what great earnestness godly sorrow has produced in you! How ready you are to clear yourselves, how indignant, how alarmed, how full of longing and enthusiasm, how eager to seek justice! In every way you have demonstrated that you are innocent in this matter.
II Corinthians 8:7 NLT
Since you excel in so many ways — in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.
II Corinthians 8:8 ISV
I am not commanding you but testing the genuineness of your love by the enthusiasm of others.
II Corinthians 8:16 NLT
But thank God! He has given Titus the same enthusiasm for you that I have.
II Corinthians 8:17 NIV
For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative.
II Corinthians 9:2 NIV
For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action.
Enthusiasm is a valuable quality and something God will help us maintain. I have found it invaluable when overcoming difficulties, sorrows, and heartaches. Both Ephesians 6:7 and Colossians 3:23 direct us to work with enthusiasm because we work for the Lord.
Enthusiasm is the pathway to victory and makes life exciting. My favorite Biblical picture of enthusiasm is found in the healing of the man at the temple gate called “Beautiful” (Acts 3:1-10). He certainly responded to God’s deliverance with enthusiasm.
A Time to Triumph
Why wouldn’t we be enthusiastic when II Corinthians 2:14 says, “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place”?
Triumphant people are enthusiastic people! God working in them is the reason for their enthusiasm. Locking our minds into being fellow-laborers with God will help us maintain productive enthusiasm.
Although we often find ourselves in enthusiasm-siphoning situations, we must work on keeping our environment positive and uplifting. Don’t allow negative people or events to steal it.
We practice enthusiasm by acting enthusiastically. Speak with your eyes wide open; move your arms and hands; let your voice broadcast your excitement. Inertia works against enthusiasm which is why you have to be deliberate.
Believe for it, pray about it, exert your will toward it. Enthusiasm can become part of our demeanor. Our enthusiasm can be as contagious as the negativity of the world.
We can change our communities and our workplaces when we stop saying depressing things, discouraging things, hateful things, negative, critical things. So, think enthusiasm! Keep enthusiasm going for you every day. Only “the zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:7).