Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Romans 12:11 is as simplistic as it sounds. Christians aren’t to be slothful or lazy in their zealousness. They are to be fervent in their spirit as they serve God. Sounds simple enough on the surface, but let’s dig deeper into the Greek!
In the Greek, the word used for zeal is the word spoude, which means earnestness and diligence. This word is used in reference to promoting an earnestness in promoting or striving after anything. In other words, Christians are not to be lazy in promoting and striving after God. Christians are to be active participants in a world that is growing darker by the day.
The second half of the sentence admonishes Christians to be fervent in spirit and serve the Lord. In the Greek, the word for fervent is Zeo, which translates as boiling with heat or to be hot. This phrase in Romans 12:11 is reminiscent of what we see in the book of Revelation when God tells the church of Laodicea that they are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold. The church in Laodicea lacked the fervency in spirit spoken of in Romans 12:11.
Clarke’s Commentary and Barnes’ Notes eloquently state what is meant by Romans 12:11. Clark states that fervency in spirit is only doing at all times what is to the glory of God, and doing everything as unto Him with a fully engaged heart. He also writes that Christians should aim to please Him, living their lives with simplicity and purity.
Barnes says something slightly different. Barnes believes that this scripture reveals a few things: Barnes first explains that the scripture teaches the value of time. Romans 12:11 begins with the command to not be lazy. Indolence hasn’t just taken over the Western world but has also crept into the church. Many Christians are just as lazy as people who don’t know God – lazy in both their secular and spiritual affairs. Of course, God commands the opposite – telling us to work hard in every area of our lives. Barnes also explains that the scripture is a reminder of the numerous and important things that are to be done.
Our lives on the earth are filled with purpose. We are to live with a zeal for God and the things of God! And we are to be fervent in spirit. So, let’s increase our zeal and fervency. Consider the points below as you fulfill the mandate of Romans 12:11:
1. Pray, worship, fast, and read scripture. Those who lack zeal and fervency or those who feel far from God. Redevelop a deep relationship with the Creator through prayer, worship, fasting and the reading of Scripture.
2. Use your natural and spiritual talents. God has given every Christian both natural and spiritual gifts. No one is without a talent. Use the talents that God has given you to bless others.
3. Be consistent. Water doesn’t boil immediately, and zeal doesn’t always occur overnight, but awakens in the believer and grows as they draw near to Christ. Increase your spiritual temperature over time by staying consistent in using your gifts and talents and deepening your relationship with God.