Last week while studying Romans 12:1-2 we asked, How should we respond to God’s great mercy toward us? Of course those verses tell us how we are supposed to respond: to give our lives to what the Lord would have us to do and allow the Holy Spirit to renew our minds so that we no longer think as the world does. Later in the chapter, Paul begins a list of responses showing us how. So far, we’ve looked at two:
- Let our love be genuine; despise evil and hold on to what is good (v 9)
- Be devoted to each other with genuine brotherly love; honor each other more than ourselves and work to outdo the other in honoring each other (v 10)
Today we get more into the meat of the attitude we should take while doing what the Lord tells us to do. “Do not lack diligence in zeal; be fervent in the Spirit; serve the Lord.” (Rom 12:11) We are not to be lazy with our enthusiasm in honoring each other. We are to live our lives for Him with sincerity and devotion. We are to remain focused, intentional, and positive about our purpose in treating each other well in the body of Christ.
As I was pondering this passage I thought about how the Lord tells us to give: “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor 9:7) That Scripture reminded me that the Lord always wants us to give everything cheerfully and from the heart, without reluctance; that includes love and honor to our Lord and others. This is illustrated in the greatest commandments, which tell us to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul and mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt 22:37-40).
In addition to telling us that we mustn’t lack zeal or enthusiasm, Paul ramps the idea of passion up another notch by adding that we must be fervent in spirit. After all we were created in Christ for good works (Eph. 2:10) and to be zealous for them (Titus 2:14).
The word translated “fervent in spirit”, zeontes, means to boil with heat, be hot. It is used of boiling anger, love, and zeal for what is good or bad, and used here to mean to have a burning zeal to do the will of God. If we are on fire for the Lord and His kingdom work, we won’t go about the tasks laid before us in a lazy, disinterested fashion. We are to pursue our purpose as believers with vigor! Otherwise, we will be like the lukewarm church that Jesus spit out (Rev 3:15-19).
Now that we’ve grasped the zealous attitude of us on fire for the Lord, we now see the target for this energy and enthusiasm: serving the Lord. That’s the final command in the verse. Connecting that together, Paul is urging us to be “all in”, both spiritually and emotionally, when it comes to serving the Lord and serving each other because “the love of Christ compels us” (2 Cor 5:14).
Lord, thank You for the reminder that I’m not on this earth for my pleasure, but instead to serve You. Lord, light my spirit so that I might boldly and fervently serve You and Your people. Lord, give me the eyes to see how to honor others above myself for Your glory and Your purposes. In the precious name of Jesus, my redeemer, amen.