July 27, 2014


While digging into Paul’s “instructions for Christian living” (as John Stott calls Romans 12:9-16), we’ve discovered that all we do, in our Christian walk, is to be based on Love. Jesus said, “Love one another, as I have loved you…” Paul explains how to make that love come alive through honest love, discernment of good, caring for one another as family and honoring each other.

In verse 11, Paul goes on to say we need to be zealous and enthusiastic in our service to God. The NIV translation says “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” In the RSV it is a little more direct: “Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.” These are action items. We are to BE passionate, dedicated and serve.

To be zealous and ardent is to follow Ecclesiastes 9:10“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” I ask myself, how often do I really give what I am doing my all? In Revelation 3:15, the church at Laodicea is condemned for being lazy and lax about faith and service, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other.”
With all the turmoil in the world, it is vital that we, who claim to follow Christ, present an example of what it is to serve Love in a committed and whole-hearted way. That’s not easy. As Mrs. Brown Sparrow says in The Contented Little Pussy Cat, “Dear me, there are so many things to trouble a body…” She is right, until you and I remember that we serve the One who announces, “But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

If we are filled with the Spirit of God and open to allowing God’s love to flow into and through us, then we can be zealous, fervent, ardent in doing what we are called to do. We can have “the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.” (Colossians 1:9) We can be partners one another “in the faith [and we] may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.” (Philemon 1:6)
You might ask, “How can I be zealous and ardent for the Lord?” It could be that the call on your heart is to pray in a more focused way or to learn how to do contemplative prayer. Try it out. Perhaps you want to feed the needy. Contact a local food bank. Where is your heart calling you to act? That is where your service will meet God in the world. There are as many ministries as there are people and needs to be met.

Is there some ministry that is calling to you? Is there a need in your neighborhood or church that you can meet? Maybe, this time of year, it is back-to-school supplies or maybe it is offering to be a tutor. Perhaps you have always wanted to make a difference in another country with the Peace Corps or some other organization. I honor those who respond to such calls. There is a young woman from our church who recently joined the Peace Corps and will be away from her family for over 2 years! What an experience and what an example of following God’s call on your heart.
Our work for the Kingdom may take many forms. In fact, it may not look like work or service at all, but like prayer. Next time, we’ll consider that idea and how it strengthens us to be Loving servants in the Kingdom. 

Let love be genuine (sincere, honest); hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are (Romans 12:9-16)

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