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Fan the Flames

What is the difference between passion and obligation? We can do a whole lot of stuff out of duty or obligation that we exhibit very little passion toward, right? I do the laundry and clean the toilets, but trust me on this one...there is very little 'passion' behind either of those obligations! When you have an obligation to do something, it is kind of tedious and you know it is because you are the one being held responsible to get it done. A job can be done out of obligation, done well, but lack any sense of really bringing fulfillment into our lives. I have a carpet shampooer and when the carpets get a little soiled looking, I schlep it out, move the furniture, and spend the next couple of hours filling the reservoir with clean water and cleaning solution, emptying the dirty water receptacle, and then cleaning everything up afterward. There is very little passion behind the cleaning frenzy, but the results are still good. I have clean carpets, pile freshly plumped, and the house smells remarkably fresh. The job got done, the results were good, but trust me - - - there was very little passion behind all that pushing, pulling, scrubbing, and schlepping!

In all the work you are given, do the best you can. Work as though you are working for the Lord, not any earthly master. Remember that you will receive your reward from the Lord, who will give you what he promised his people. Yes, you are serving Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24)

Passion is exhibited a little differently because there is not this sense of 'have to' behind it. You actually 'want to' do something, not out of obligation or a deep-seated need to keep the rules, but because there is a fire ignited in you when you do. Maybe that is the real difference between the two - the fire that burns within. Passion isn't based on how we feel or don't feel toward the thing we are doing. We find there is a drive within that actually rises above our feelings and we just do whatever it is because we 'get to' do it. Ask me on just about any day of the week if I want to go fishing and you will see the difference between obligation and passion! That pole comes out of the cabinet, the tackle is ready in a jiff, and my hat is in hand! I find fishing very relaxing and it brings a sense of 'communion' in my life - maybe because I get to commune with my Maker while I enjoy some pretty amazingly beautiful places.

One thing I'd like to leave us with today as we consider whether we are doing things out of obligation or because there some sense of passionate purpose behind those actions is the thought of dwindling returns. You know how you lose a little bit of passion for something over the course of time? Well, it is because you haven't spent much time kindling that passion! If we want solid marriages, we have to rekindle the passion from time to time or it gets old and stale. If we want growing and vibrant relationships with each other in the family of God, we need to kindle those things that bind us together and squash the things that tear us apart. If we want to grow our passion and reduce our sense of 'obligation' toward something God is asking of us, we first need to 'stoke' or 'fan the flames' of that passion. A little spark of passion can ignite a whole forest fire of passion when the flame is fanned a little! It doesn't take much to rekindle passion, but it must be continually renewed or it will soon begin to show 'dwindling returns'! Just sayin!

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