Acceptable Worship: A Zealous and Fervent Service to the Lord

Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, Clark Freeport, Pampanga, Philippines, Romans 12:11, zeal, fervor, serve the Lord, acceptable worship
Clark Freeport, Pampanga, Philippines | February 2011

Romans 12:11 Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.

Not lagging behind in diligence…

Lagging behind” means slothful, lazy, sluggish, hesitating hence be tardy or delayed. In classical Greek, it means indolent which refers to shrinking backward, because unready. The idea of ‘delay’ underlies the secondary sense, ‘burdensome, troublesome’ – a vexation arising from weary waiting.

Of course the word not negates the attitude of “lagging behind”.

While the word “diligence” (“zeal” in other versions) in Greek is spoudḗ which means to hurry, to make haste. It is moving with swiftness to show zealous diligence, giving one’s best and full effort by making haste. It also means earnestness and enthusiasm in accomplishing, promoting, or striving after anything.  For the believer, it means quickly obeying what the Lord reveals is His priority. This elevates the better over the good – the more important over the important – and does so with earnest swiftness.

Therefore not lagging behind in diligence is not only about hard work, persistence and painstaking effort but starts with a heart full of eagerness and enthusiastic zeal in serving the Lord; manifested in swift obedience, in earnestness in giving one’s best and total commitment in accomplishing a task, not losing momentum or becoming weary but always ready to do the work of the Lord.

I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands. (Psalm 119:60)

We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. (Hebrews 6:11-12)

Fervent in spirit…

Fervent literally means to boil with heat, to burn in spirit. This describes the intensity of our service to the Lord; it should not be lukewarm or cold but boiling in the spirit.

Figuratively, it means to show great zeal; to be ardently passionate, “boiling” with interest or desire; to be deeply committed to something, with the implication of accompanying desire – ‘to be earnest, to set one’s heart on, to be completely intent upon’.

We are also reminded by Paul in 2 Timothy 1:6 to fan into flame the gift of God.

… Serving the Lord. 

Serving in this verse means to be a slave. We serve the Lord, not as an employed servant or a temporary volunteer but a bond-servant who willingly and totally devotes oneself to permanent servitude for the Lord.

We are called to serve the Lord with haste, with zealous diligence, and with fervent spirit giving our complete devotion to Him; to not only be obedient but also be passionate, full of enthusiasm and excitement in serving Him. Our reason and motivation behind all these go back to everything the Lord has done for us, because of His immeasurable love and unending mercy, He sacrificed Himself for us to save us from our sins and has called us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is our true and proper worship (Romans 12:1).

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Romans 12 Personal Study Series:
Acceptable Worship: An Offering Prescribed by God (Romans 12:1-2)
Acceptable Worship: A Selfless Service (Romans 12:3-8)
Acceptable Worship: A Love That Conforms to God’s Character (Romans 12:9-10)
Acceptable Worship: A Zealous and Fervent Service to the Lord (Romans 12:11)
Acceptable Worship:  Joyful, Prayerful and Persevering in Tribulation (Romans 12:12)
Acceptable Worship:  An Eagerness to Meet the Needs of God’s People (Romans 12:13)

Interlinear Bible
Parallel Bible

For further understanding of Romans 12 you can check these sites: GCF’s sermon series on Romans or John MacArthur’s sermon series on Romans.

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