Relationship To Other Christians (Continued)
“Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;” (Romans 12:11)
Continuing from verse 10, we have encapsulated within the next five verses what the ideal life of the Christian in relation to their local church and other believers should look like. We are cautioned against being slothful in business, that is, lazy in our service both to God and others. Our “business” here is literally our diligence, our eagerness, our zeal. Fervent in spirit literally means to be on fire for the things of God. Additionally, our prayer life is to be instant or, constant (v. 12). We must be persistent in our petitions to the Lord.
Do not be lazy; be on fire, be eager, be zealous, be persistent. How could anyone ever get the idea that the Christian life is boring? How did we ever get the idea that the “calling” of the average Christian is simply to warm a pew every Sunday? Our time on earth is to be spent in vigorous service of our Lord and in humble servitude of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. We must be about our Father’s business, not living to cater to our own needs and wants. We all want to live the Christian life and enjoy a more satisfying fellowship with our Savior. This is how it’s done. Romans 12:9-21 is our instruction manual for how to live our life here and now.
“Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.” (Romans 12:13)
If I may paraphrase this verse: Don’t be greedy either! We should give to those who do not have, to those who are truly in need, particularly in our own churches. While charity for those outside of the Body of Christ is a wonderful act of godly love, the saints are the ones mentioned here. Sometimes we forget that we have some in our own midst who are suffering great need. There was a time long ago when the only charities were the churches themselves and every congregation made sure to take care of their own. This has obviously fallen out of fashion in most churches. I remember hearing of an elderly woman in a local church where I lived who stood up one Sunday morning when the pastor asked if anyone had any prayer requests. She was a widow who was having a hard time paying her bills and asked that the church pray that God would help her pay her overdue electric bill before her power was turned off. It seemed she owed about $70 and that if she did not pay soon she would be left without lights and heat in the middle of Winter. The pastor nodded very piously and said that they would definitely add this to the prayer list. I wonder if a collection from the congregation to raise the seventy bucks might not have been better news to her than knowing they were all “praying” for her?
“Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not” (Romans 12:14)
This is certainly a tough one for most of us. I know that I have a hard time praying for God to bless those who wrong me. It is worth noting here that this particular verse appears in the section where Paul is still talking about those within the Church. Verses 17-21 will deal with non-Christians, but this verse is talking about being persecuted by other saints! The one place where a believer should be safe from enemies is within the walls of the Sanctuary, but most of us who have been involved with the Church for a while know that this is not the case. Even so, we are to pray that God will bless them and that they might be softened by the grace and goodness of the Lord.
“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.” (Romans 12:15-16)
We are to sympathize with what our Christian brethren are going through, in good times and bad. We should offer comfort when needed and we should rejoice in the success and triumphs of others. We should view others with a spirit of equality, knowing that each of us in the Body of Christ is neither more nor less important or loved by God. There is no place in the Christian’s life for pride, arrogance, self-centeredness, or callousness.
All of these instructions in Romans 12:9-21 are little more than a paraphrase of the Lord Jesus’ words from the Sermon On The Mount. Matthew 5-7 are echoed by the Apostle Paul in this brief passage on daily Christian living. Though the Sermon On The Mount was given to show us all just how short we fall from the perfect righteousness of God, the redeemed child of God is given similar instructions here in Romans 12, knowing that the indwelling Spirit of God can change us and sanctify us, empowering us to actually follow the guidelines given. Man on his own is powerless to reach such a high standard of conduct, but God can and will empower us to do so. We cannot live the Christian life in our own strength, but we can allow the Holy Spirit to live it through us.
To God goes all glory. In service to Him,