Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.
If you are a believer, then your life is going to be marked by a genuine love for God and a genuine love for other people. In Romans 12, Paul showed us what genuine love looks like.
First of all, Paul said genuine love persists instead of giving in. Look at his description in verse 11: “Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” This reminds me of a guy who asked his friend, “Do you believe the two greatest problems in the world are ignorance and apathy?” The friend responded, “I don’t know, and I don’t care.” Paul said we are not to have apathy. We are not to be uncaring or lazy, especially when it comes to being a Christian. Instead, he said, we are to be diligent and fervent in spirit.
Romans 12:11 is translated this way in the King James Version: “Not slothful in business.” When Paul was talking about business, he was not just talking about your vocation. He was saying, “Do not be lazy in any part of your life.” Do not be lazy in being a Christian. Becoming a Christian takes no work–it is by grace alone–but living as a Christian takes a lot of hard work.
Second, Paul said genuine love perseveres instead of giving up. True love not only persists instead of giving in, but it perseveres instead of giving up. Look at verse 12: “Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.” As I was studying this passage, I came across a great definition of a Christian. A Christian is someone who is completely fearless, continually cheerful, and constantly in trouble. That is a pretty good definition, isn’t it? If you are living for Christ in an ungodly world, then you are going to be in trouble all the time. You are going to be in trouble with your friends, you are going to be in trouble at work, and you are going to be in trouble sometimes with your own family. But in spite of the problems, you don’t give up. Instead, you rejoice in hope. That is what keeps you going. Hope in the Bible is not just a wish, as in, “I hope this happens,” or, “I sure hope that turns out to be true.” In the Bible, hope is an assurance. The writer of Hebrews said, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for” (11:1). It is the absolute bedrock assurance that what God has promised, He is going to do.
Love is also the key to being devoted to praying for people who are persecuting you. I have found in my own life that it is impossible to pray for somebody and hate him or her at the same time. You cannot continue to hate somebody when you are saying, “God, I want the best for this person.” We are to pray when other people are causing us tribulation. And I think Paul was also saying that sometimes the most loving thing you can do for another person is to be an example of what it means to be devoted to prayer.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “True Love Never Waits” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.