Prophetic Momentum

Jon Cressey writing mostly about church, prophets and prophecy...

Never lack zeal

Romans 12:1-11 marks a pivotal moment in the Book of Romans, serving as a practical guide for followers of Jesus, illustrating how to embody our beliefs in tangible ways.

It acts as a manual for putting faith into practical action. Initially, Paul urges us to live our lives as a ‘thank you’ to God, acknowledging His deeds for us.

Being authentic

This goes beyond mere rule-following; it calls for a transformation of our hearts and minds, enabling us to discern how to please God and emphasises a shift away from worldly pursuits, focusing instead on what truly matters. Our actions, as well as our beliefs, are not just meant to be congruent (our words and deeds matching up) but are intended to reflect our faith – fruitfulness!

Paul then continues in this renowned chapter to highlight our collective role within the church, likening it to various parts of a single body, with each member playing a crucial role. This underscores the diversity of our skills and gifts, intended for mutual support within church fellowship and friendship, fostering strength and love rather than competition.

There’s a notable encouragement Paul offers at this point. All these things Paul mentions about not conforming to the patterns of this world, assessing yourself with sober judgement and then, whatever gift we have, to make sure we use it well and for others.

Outdoing one another – the challenge!

The congregation may have been agreeing enthusiastically, even as Paul encourages them about devotion – not just to God, which is expected – but to one another, including a caveat: in brotherly love. The bar has been raised. Paul expects great things from them – as does the Lord, but then the bar is raised even higher, “Outdo one another in showing honour.” Inspired by the Spirit as he writes, Paul (and the Lord) have issued a challenge.

Honouring ourselves is one thing, to give honour to another is acceptable, but to outdo one another in showing honour? This, I would argue, ranks among the challenges facing the church today. The fear among some is that if they show great honour to some, then they may become proud! Ridiculous, but true! Along with the element of honour, I would suggest, comes encouragement. Our currency of encouragement can be very low unless we actively do something about it – it was a noticeable characteristic of Barnabas!

The challenge!

Yet, here we are in Romans 12, at a “Mission Impossible” moment. The music is hyped, and there is adventure, but then Paul delivers a strong exhortation:

“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” (ESV)
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.” (NIV)
“Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;” (NASB)

In the context of Romans 12:11, it seems Paul is inferring a passionate and active spiritual fervour or enthusiasm, being spiritually alive and vibrant, fully engaged in faith and dedication to God’s service, living out one’s faith and serving the Lord with all earnestness and dedication.

Take care!

It’s almost as if he might be saying, “Watch out, don’t get caught out; even in the midst of all your activity, there is a need to guard your heart. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” It’s a warning against complacency and lethargy. Expect much from the Lord, but seek to ensure your heart is in a place where you put your hand to the plough, tear down the walls, cry aloud for the heavens to open, for souls to be saved, and for God’s will to be done here on earth just as in heaven. Do it with a ‘Braveheart’ attitude wrapped in grace, with a heart ignited by faith, a passion for Christ, and a longing to see the supremacy of Christ in all things.

Stir it up! Be zealous and serve the Lord—and remember… you will be rewarded on the last day for your zeal for Him. He’s always watching.

Never lack zeal
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