We are halfway through January already! It’s going by so quickly that I can hardly keep up!
That is why we must take advantage of every opportunity that each day brings. Each day brings new mercies and new grace. And by the grace of God, we should eagerly serve the Lord every day.
The apostle Paul gives several short admonishments in Romans 12:9-21. Each one encourages believers to live in unity and to love one another sacrificially as we serve the Lord.
Tucked in among these is the 11th verse, which says,
“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” Romans 12:11
This encouragement shouts loudly for today’s church. It shouts loudly for us, too, as we endeavor to fan the flames on the altars of our hearts.
“Do not be slothful in zeal” is the ESV rendering. Other translations say “not lagging in diligence,” “Never be lacking in zeal,” or “in diligence not slothful.” Essentially, what Paul is saying is, “Do not be lazy.”
Lazy is a word with a strong negative connotation. But it does describe some believers. Many things, such as apathy or indifference, can fuel laziness. It can also be fueled by insecurity and a lack of confidence. Either way, you cannot be on fire for God and lazy at the same time. You cannot truly serve the Lord and be lazy!
Some may breathe a sigh of relief because they are anything but lazy! Don’t be so quick to dismiss Paul’s powerful words. He doesn’t just deal with a believer’s actions but also with a believer’s heart!
Paul also says we should be fervent in spirit! The phrase “be fervent” in Greek carries the idea of boiling water (zeō). The image is that of a pot of boiling water bubbling up and overflowing!
Being fervent in spirit deals with the heart of the believer. The apathetic and indifferent believer CAN be very active in the church! But they are not truly serving the Lord with gladness (Psalm 100:2).
You see, it is not just about what we do, but also how we do it! We shouldn’t just work in the church but be excited about it! Being fervent in spirit is to have a heart that is eager to serve the Lord with enthusiasm. It is being ablaze with the vibrant presence of the Holy Spirit, like boiling water, full of vigor and passion, actively pursuing the things of God. It is not being lazy, stagnant, idle, or apathetic.
Here are some things to help you avoid laziness and be fervent in spirit:
STOP looking for recognition! Should it come, be gracious, be thankful. If not, ensure that God is glorified! Matthew. 5:16
STOP complaining! Nothing extinguishes flames like complaining. Sometimes there are things to complain about. Take your thoughts to someone who can actually do something about it. Stop rehearsing the problems, and brainstorm solutions! AND take EVERYTHING the Lord in prayer. Philippians 2:14
STOP commiserating with naysayers! Divisiveness is infectious! If you stay around it too long, you WILL be infected! Paul tells young Pastor Timothy to warn divisive people twice, after that, have nothing to do with them! It is that serious! Titus 3:10, 1 Corinthians 15:33
HEAL! Ask God to heal your heart if you’ve experienced hurt that has caused you to feel apathy, indifference, or mistrust. Surrender feelings of anger, resentment, and all bitterness to the Lord. He wants to heal your heart so you will be zealous for HIM! Psalm 147:3
KNOW that you work for the Lord! Whew! This is a big one. Tough boss? You work for the Lord! Splitting hairs with a church leader? You work for the Lord! Disagree with the way things are going? If it is not sinful, immoral, or ungodly, prayerfully express your opinion, then keep on praying. Remember, it will not always go your way. And also remember, you work for the Lord! Colossians 3:23-24
PRAY! Ask the Lord to IGNITE passion within your heart again! I am not talking about emotionalism but spiritual excitement, grounded in faith in Christ and the truth of God’s Word. Ask the Lord to help you develop a hunger and thirst for God’s Word, worship, and prayer. Practice healthy spiritual disciplines and be consistent.
It is not just about DOING. It is more about BEING. Whatever you do for the Lord should be done faithfully, with spiritual zeal and enthusiasm. Yes, dear hearts! Let’s not be stagnant or lazy but be bubbling up and boiling over!
This week’s Embrace the Word topic is Be Devoted. These passages deal with not only our devotion to God but also to one another. Prayerfully embrace these passages of scripture. Study them in context and allow the Holy Spirit to make an imprint on your heart. Let’s catch on fire and stay on fire for God!
As I always say, the Word WORKS! We are walking in WHOLENESS, OBEDIENCE, RIGHTEOUSNESS, and KINGDOM SUCCESS through the Word of God!
Your friend in the journey,