How ‘Not’ to Boil a Goat

How 'Not' to Boil a Goat

In Matthew 22:36, Jesus was asked which of all the commandments of the Law is the greatest. It’s an interesting question and He answered it on several different occasions.

The tradition, which began with a 3rd century sermon by Rabbi Simlai, tells us that there were 613 commandments in the Torah from which Jesus could have chosen. Honestly, I haven’t counted them. But, suffice it to say, there are a lot!

Jesus could have been provocative. I would have gone this route for sure! I would have come off as mysterious, profound, edgy! I would have said, “The greatest commandment of all is Exodus 33:19: “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” Everyone would have went, “Huh”? And I would have went, “Exactly. You don’t get it because I’m really deep and you’re … well, not.”

(Now, aren’t you glad I’m not the Lord? So am I!)

Jesus’ answer was, of course, perfect: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27).

OK, we are to (1) “love the Lord.” Check.

And (2) “love our neighbor.” Check check.

And we’re to do so with all our “heart” and “soul” and “strength” and “mind.”

Now, in case you’ve misplaced your heart recently, I’ll tell you where to find it. Look for the thing you treasure most in life and that’s where it will be. If you love your work more than anything else, that’s where your heart is. If you love baseball more than anything else, that’s where you’ll find your heart. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). That’s really interesting to me. I would have expected Him to say, ‘Where your heart is, there your treasure will be,’ but He didn’t. We’ll talk about why some other time.

Anyway, what did Jesus mean by saying we must love the Lord our God and our neighbor with all our “heart”? I get what “soul” means (emotions, feelings). I understand what “strength” means too (energy). And “mind” (reasoning). But what does Jesus mean by “heart”?

He’s talking about passion. He wants us to put our whole heart in to love, all the passion we can muster. The Lord sets godly passions within the hearts of His people. Our passions are those things that really interest us, that really get us going. Jesus is talking about being passionate about Kingdom things.

The key to effectively serving the Lord is marrying our passion to our gifts. So, if I have a spiritual gift for teaching and I have a passion to see kids come to love Jesus: Voila! I’m going to serve in the Sunday School.

Now, what are you passionate about? Be careful here, because answering honestly can mean telling on yourself. As believers, we should be passionate about the things of God – the things that please our Heavenly Father. Unfortunately, our passions often slouch towards earthly things, things that can’t last.

God wants His children to be marked by a zeal and a fervency of spirit that propels us into serving. Romans 12:11 says, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” There it is: fervency.

Fervency is passion. Fervency is deeper than mere interest or curiosity. It’s stronger than simple emotion. What we’re fervent about is what we’re willing to most devote our time to.

The Greek word behind the English word ‘fervent’ actually means ‘to boil.’ So, we put a pan of water on the stove and after a while it begins to respond to the heat. It can’t help itself. The water soon becomes troubled, agitated, excited. It has to do something! Before long tiny bubbles break the stillness of the surface. Then the little bubbles become big ones. Finally, it all boils over – out of the pan and onto the stove, touching everything around it. It can’t help itself. It’s just fervent!

So, let’s boil over for Jesus! Let’s not be “slothful in zeal.” Let’s “be fervent in spirit.” And let that fervency boil over into “serving the Lord”!

(Oh, by the way, the commandment about not boiling a young goat in its mother’s milk seems to be a divine acknowledgement of the important intimacy of the mother/child relationship even among animals. We must always give special honor to the relationships that God has Himself ordained. Isn’t that beautiful?)


To consider …

  • Have you lost your heart lately? Have you gone looking for it? Were you surprised to find the “treasure” you found it lying beside?
  • Remember when you first met Jesus – that tender time when everything was new? Wasn’t your spirit really ‘boiling’ back then? How is it different now? If the water in your spiritual sauce pan has cooled significantly, if the surface of the water there is awfully still, it’s probably time to devote yourself to serious, focused prayer about it. Ask the Father to reignite your fervency. Ask Him to set your heart a-boil once again.
  • Have you married your passion to your spiritual gift? Are you serving Jesus? Ask Him to show you where He wants you to use your gifts in the Body.

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  1. Hmmm- good questions and hard answers. Passions are music particularly worship and praise music and children. Music because I can feel the “bubbling up” of God’s love His compassion and it fills the whole body and soul. Makes me think of that song actually I think titled “untitled hymn”sung by Chris Rice- but I would call it Come to Jesus – I sang it at Kathryn Boisvert’s mom’s service – there is a section that explains it – oh and when the love spills over and music fills the night and you can’t contain the joy inside – dance (sing in my world) for Jesus.

    Children from babies to adult – each stage of life have their own unique qualities- babies – the newness of life the sweet promise of a blessing – just precious gifts from God each and every one- preschoolers with their curiousity and wanting to absorb everything (and I mean everything so watch out) so teachable and wanting you to stop and actually listen to their big elobarate stories about what we might think are small things but to them it’s huge. Just stop and sit and play and love.

    School aged – so different in so many levels and so many changes – not preschool anymore but not old enough to be very independent they need a lot of guidance and direction. And again the biggest thing is to really listen and understand them not brush aside their words but to hear their hearts and beyond the words.

    Preteens and teens – my other passion – these children and actually I would call them young adults are on the paths that will mold them into the men and women Jesus wants them to be – we can be a big part of that journey. It is a quirky time of life as each of us probably remembers and sometimes just knowing they are safe and accepted just as they are is a big deal. See their individual gifts and their passions and draw them out and share your lives with them – you will not be sorry when you see them grow up into their adult lives. I can think of a few that have blessed me and some day I hope and pray they will invest in a teen and share their love of Jesus too.

    So bottom line as Jesus says LOVE – remember He has first loved you in all your filthiness and sin and you and forgave you and you must do the same – because love covers a multitude of sin.

    • Joy I just want to tell you that you do make a difference in this world. You are a blessing to God.your a blessing to those kids and the church. You have a amazing voice and i know God is pleased and I forgot you are a blessing to me keep up the great work

    • Kathryn Boisvert : November 6, 2017 at 7:34 pm

      I am most passionate about sharing the gospel and leading others to Christ. Anyone that’s known me more than 10 years has picked up on that. Sometimes it’s music (my other passion) God uses as a tool, but most often it’s my personal testimonies. I sense God has ensured my excitement I had the day I got healed/saved, STAYS deep inside my heart! I can honestly say I have never suffered a “mundane” season in the Lord. Every bit of this “ride” has been exciting!! I hope/pray 🙏🏻😀 my passion shows!

  2. I recall that verse in 2 Cor. 11:3b ‘the simplicity that is in Jesus’ and how easily it is to be removed form it. I recall equally as well that verse in Revelation to the church in Ephesus, how it had left its first love, despite all its works and is admonished to rekindle that love. God, is truly in love with his church and at least for me is bringing that relationship to its rightful place. Recently I have come across a new believer and am overwhelmed with his love affair with Jesus, its so beautiful. The bible says somewhere is Song of Solomon, ‘Draw me and we shall run after thee’ something is happening at HCC, and its precious invigorating encouraging, Thank you Jesus you really do love your church! cs

  3. I know what spiritual gifts I have that I enjoy using. And I have identified some gifts that I really don’t have. But I think we need to follow where God is breaking us…putting us through emotional trials…to find out where God may be planning to REALLY use us. Did Van Gogh have a passion for painting or did he turn to painting because he needed an outlet for the pain he was feeling? We know Moses didn’t have a passion for leadership but God used his broken relationship with Egypt and the odd circumstances of his life to make him the perfect mediator between Israel and Egypt. Where is God breaking you? I’m not sure but I suspect I may being groomed to be the director of a loony bin.

    • Oh my word…it’s 7 o’clock in the morning…as I was writing this I heard Illiana speaking urgently to her sister in their bedroom. I peeked in to find her directing Dakota in the decorative placement of toilet paper all over her bunkbed. A whole roll!!!

    • Michele von Hein : November 7, 2017 at 8:28 am

      Spoken like a true parent of many, Teri! Do not grow weary in doing good!

  4. Yes, our passion for Christ should drive us to devoted service for Him. However, I particularly like the direction Kerin took with this when she mentioned “breaking us” and “necessary surrender”. I don’t think our passions should necessarily drive us in our service. Sure, sometimes an area of service will be an obvious “fit”. Yet, I think it’s, more importantly, a matter of surrender to whatever method or place God wants to use us. My church experience has shown me that, too often, people will sit on the sidelines when it comes to service, content to let others do the “serving” while they wait for something they “like” or are “comfortable with” to show itself as a need. In so doing, they fail to recognize that GOD is the equipper and is in the practice of doing amazing things through inadequate people. In essence, they are telling God that He is not powerful enough to manage things, not to mention that it doesn’t allow God to grow us in new ways. Add to that the analogy we are given of the Church being like a body with each limb, organ, etc. having a role in making the whole function, and you can see that if someone is not serving, chances are, someone else is having to pick up the slack. This in essence means that an eye is doing the work of a foot, or a nose that of a thumb — obviously not the way God had designed us and a sure-fire recipe for burnout of those doing the serving. We need to ALL be involved if the Church “body” is to function to full potential.

    One last quick comment with regard to Pastor G’s words on throw-aways last Sunday. One of my favorite books I have ever read, a book that I have passed on to innumerable people in my life, speaks to this very topic. That book, Same Kind of Different As Me, is out in movie form as I write. In fact, Scott and I saw it in Lincoln just last weekend. It is the true story of the impact that one Christian woman’s love and compassion for “throw-aways” had on the people around her. I would encourage everyone to go see it or if it is no longer out in your area, consider picking up the book. You will not go unchanged! Ciao! 😀

    • Lisa, I loved that movie and want to read the book! My daughter goes to feed the homeless on Tuesday nights in Dallas- a highlight of her week. She just loves to visit with them, find out needs maybe can be helped, knows who works and just needs food . They often have 200. She studied for youth ministry but says talking to these homeless is so similar. Sometimes she gives the evening talk. When I visit it is encouraging to me to see what is done – 52 Tuesdays a year, even on holidays. since we look alike several always come up to speak with me too.

  5. Following up on Lisa’s comment about waiting for something we like….sometimes we find that God doesn’t’ even necessarily want us there in that ministry. I was volunteering for hospice (talk about God having plans for us that we would never have chosen for ourselves) when I thought it would be lovely to minister to the homeless and working poor in Woonsocket. So because of time constraints I stopped doing hospice work and poured myself into the ministry with Steve. Not only was I ineffective to a large degree but I felt as though there was a huge void in my life. Through a lot of difficult trials and circumstances I found myself floundering around wondering what God was doing! And then he clearly showed me that it was not in his plan for me to give up on hospice and I knew that I needed to find my way back to my treasure. That being said, I am passionate about hospice care…. but am I boiling over? I go back to week 1 and again, it’s all about time. If I am honest I could find more time for my passion. I’m going to work on it. Also, many of the people I visit are elderly folks in nursing homes – often “throw-aways” whom no one visits. Anyone with the gift of encouragement or nurturing should consider a ministry to those who have lived their lives almost to the end and are left without anyone to value them. Sad. 😞

    • Kathryn Boisvert : November 7, 2017 at 6:40 am

      I know what you mean, Anne, because my passion is for the elderly. I put in my blog earlier that it is for the unsaved & the lost. It is also for those that are “the least of these.” I hear the Holy Spirit tell me this all the time when I go in and sing for them. I give of my time at the end of my session. I often give an extra half an hour 3 times a month(after shift end) for that VERY reason! I want them to feel valued and loved and “heard” because they are very lonely I need someone to validate them. I let them know that it is God loving them. I very often use those words so they will recognize it as HIM sending someone to them and that is how much he loves them !!

  6. I find that I help others whenever I can… We are blessed to have a wonderful church body. Extra blessings to the wonderful after church gathering put on by Amelia,Terri,and Gerry.

  7. What a blessing to read the above blogs.So many of us are serving in ways that other church members don’t see. My teaching profession brings such a joy helping the students with subject matter and life.. I have close family members that count on me. My strength is upon the Lord. I agree with Lou that Sunday fellowship and meal was wonderful.. Thank you..

    Joy your voice always inspires.. You are so gifted.

  8. One of the things I have been truly blessed to see and hear is everyone’s participation in the new vision for HCC. Whether it is sharing on the blog, or sharing after the message on Sundays or participating in the samll home groups, everyone’s portion is vital and being expressed. I love it! I love hearing from the pastors and other leaders in our church and what God is doing in their lives. Things are starting to boil for us!

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