“Fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11)
One thing God hates is slothfulness in His people. It is not merely a problem that afflicts individuals; it is a sin. The book of Proverbs has much to say against the sin of sloth and laziness. In the book of Revelation, the Lord admonishes the Laodicean church for their lukewarm attitude concerning the things of God.
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (Rev 3:15-16)
Those are very harsh words … and they were directed to a body of believers in a local church!
In his letter to the Romans, when Paul turns to the practical aspect of the Christian faith, (having laid down the doctrinal foundation of the gospel in the first eleven chapters), he pleads with believers to consider the great “mercies of God” and to conduct themselves accordingly. He gives a variety of specific things pertinent to living the Christian life, and in the midst of them, commands us to be “not slothful in business (activity); fervent in spirit; serving the Lord”.
As a youth, the Lord once defended His actions as “being about His Father’s business”. As His followers, it is the Christian’s great business is to be faithfully and fervently “serving the Lord”. Service that is not done in a fervent spirit, is not acceptable. That means what we believe, we must believe fervently. And what we do, we must do fervently. Are we to love God? Then we must love Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and with all our strength. (Mark 12:30). While more is involved, at the very minimum, this first and great commandment demands that we must love the Lord fervently.
Are we to love our brothers in Christ? Peter reminds us that having purified our souls in obeying the truth (note the exhortation to gospel obedience here!), we are to “love one another with a pure heart fervently”. One might even question if there really is real love where there is no fervency involved!
Apollos was fervent in the spirit as he spoke and taught the things of the Lord diligently. (Acts 18:25). In so doing he sets a good example for all who would speak and teach the things of the Lord. It should be done fervently and diligently (accurately). God demands His servants to teach truthfully, but He also demands them to proclaim it fervently.
That kind of fervent spirit in spiritual matters may not be popular. Of course, being faithful to the Word of God rarely is a popular position, but the Christian is never to seek popularity in the world, but praise from God. The truths we believe are to be held firmly as matters of deep conviction; not as matters of convenience.
My prayer is that God would first pour His truth into my heart, and then grant to me the spirit of fervency in applying it to myself and then in living and speaking it out to others.
(Note: This article first published Nov. 22, 2013)