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Keep Your Spiritual Fervor: A Sermon Primer on Romans 12.11

23 May

In Romans 12, Paul goes into great detail to describe the transformed life, or better the life in process of being transformed. The journey of transformation is daily presenting our bodies, the battleground of our souls where we fight against our sin nature, as a living sacrifice. Worship is constantly confessing, repenting, and renewing ourselves to obedience to our Lord and Savior. Further, the journey of transformation is engaged by using our spiritual gifts, allowing the Spirit of God to flow through us in unique ways to minister to others and to glorify the Father. And the journey is transformation is the ever changing process of learning how to love the Lord and each other without hypocrisy, abhorring what is evil and clinging to the good.

This transforming life is further described in Romans 12 with a shotgun blast of exhortations and descriptions of how to live in Christ. Reading them all at once is like drinking out of a fire hose, so it seems more profitable to break them down one at a time. Consider the following,

10Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (Romans 12.10-11 ESV)

Since we focused on love without hypocrisy (Romans 12.9) last week, I am drawn to this marvelous exhortation of verse 11. A closer examination of the text helps us to understand what Paul was trying to say, although it may not answer the “elephant in the living room question.”

We are told not to be slothful, a word which means slow or lazy, in our zeal. “Zeal” is a word that means “haste, earnestness, diligence, striving after anything.” So, we should not be lacking in zeal (NIV) nor should we lack diligence (HCSB). In addition, we are to be fervent in spirit (ESV). The word translated “fervent” literally means “to boil.” Our spirit is to “boil over” as we serve the Lord.

The picture is not hard to grasp. As followers of Christ, in process of being transformed by His Spirit, we are to be “boiling in our spirit,” or to use a popular phrase, to be “on fire for the Lord.” The lack of zeal is easy to spot in another, and the evidence of zeal is captured time and again in the Book of Proverbs. Consider,

I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, 31and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. 32Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. 33A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, 34and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man. (Proverbs 24.30-34 ESV)

But the struggle to “live into” Romans 12.11 is not so much in understanding what the Scriptures are saying to us, but in doing what it says. We are commanded to “keep our spiritual fervor,” and my soul has to ask, “How do we do that?” Consider the way the Message translates Romans 12.11,

11Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master,  (Message)

How, exactly, do we keep ourselves fueled and aflame? That seems to be the difficult question of Romans 12.11. Anyone who has been following Christ for more than a week knows that weariness and lack of zeal are constant struggles on the pathway to maturity. The question is, “What can we do to bring back zeal to a spirit that is zeal-less?”

For those of you who have taken the time to visit this site to read this post, I would be very interested to know what you do to “keep your spiritual fervor” so that you will “never be lacking in zeal.” Please post your suggestions or experience in the comment section below.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

4 responses to “Keep Your Spiritual Fervor: A Sermon Primer on Romans 12.11

  1. Casey

    May 23, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    I lose all ferver when I stand down in a spiritual battle and give in to a little sin. Guilt kicks in. I’m afraid to pray. I seek comfort in the world with further sin. So I guess my answer is “don’t sin.” Or if I do sin, find my way back quickly. It’s easier to keep a train going if it already has momentum. The only way I know how to do these things is to surround myself with constant reminders and actions that force cognitive dissonance and change. A daily Bible curriculum is a must. Surrounding myself with friends on the same path helps, too. Try to volunteer or make plans to fill empty time. I guess these things don’t exactly establish passion but rather avoid stopping it. A good heart-to-heart with someone can be very inspiring. Or a good song that’s just what I needed to hear. Right now Chris Rice’s song “And your praise goes on” has that effect.

     
  2. Erik Michael Nahman Stouffer

    January 11, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Ya know it’s a large question. The thing if you can become a spiritual minded man, you are very blessed. To do this is a number of things. The most important one I believe though is to read the word. The bible, prayer, fasting and fellowship. When you read you ask for your eyes to be opened, for His law to be written on your heart, for wisdom to enter you. Meditate on it, and I truly know how hard this can be. Ask God questions, why this word, this symbol? Learn His language, surely, must, if, be careful?! Why, why? Pray, ask to become great at praying. Learn the languages of the psalmists. Have faith. Fellowship, but with the right brother. Fellowshipping is a gateway to many evils, but it’s also a fast track towards true freedom in Christ through walking as He did in His fruit. Find the fruitful, and stick with them, move in with them, eat with them. The brotherhood of the righteous is powerful. Fast, if you can only do it for four hours on the weekend that’s find but fight to stay in dedicated prayer, and some reading, meditate, ask God to answer questions directly. But try to eat nothing from 12:00 Midnight to when your done fasting. Eventually you will become a spirit-minded man and you won’t be thinking about the things of the world anymore. Give everything to God, and all you will have is Him, His word, His people and the things of God we are here to share.

    Thank you for sharing, God bless you!

     
    • tpylant

      January 12, 2012 at 9:27 am

      Thanks for stopping by, and I appreciate your thoughts. You laid out some of the basic and essential spiritual disciplines that have guided the church for decades. Putting ourselves in the pathway of God’s grace!. I have moved my blog to another site, so I invite you to stop over there and we can dialogue some more. http://www.toddpylant.com

       
  3. John Lewis

    July 24, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Maintaining the ‘spiritual disciplines’ ‘they gave themselves to …the apostles teaching …fellowship …prayer etc.”

     

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