Fervent in Spirit

Romans 12:9-13 ESV

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”

Genuine Love

The love this is talking about is not human love which is based largely in feelings (emotions). This is agape love which is centered in moral preference, and which means to prefer what God prefers, because he is love. And what God prefers is what is holy, righteous, godly, morally pure, upright, honest, obedient and faithful, etc. So, if we love with this kind of love, we are not going to deliberately, habitually, and/or premeditatedly sin against God and against other humans. But we will do good for them.

And for our love to be genuine it has to be the real deal. It can’t be faked, although some people might try to fake it. For we can’t just mouth the words “I love you,” and then turn and treat God and other people with hate by deliberately sinning against them, especially if done habitually and/or premeditatedly. For to love God, and to love his children, is to obey God. And if we do not obey God, we do not truly love him or his children, and we don’t know God, either, and if we claim to, then we are liars.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 8:51; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:10; Matt 7:21-23; 1 Jn 2:3-6,15-17; 1 Jn 3:4-10,24; 1 Jn 5:2-3; 2 Jn 1:6; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; Rom 12:1-2; Tit 2:11-14; Heb 5:9; 1 Pet 1:1-2; Jas 1:21-25; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Php 2:12-13; Jn 10:27-30; Acts 5:32]

So, if we are going to love God and our fellow humans with genuine love, then we need to be people who hate what is evil and who hold fast to (cling to) what is good. For if we don’t hate evil, but evil is what we cling to and not to what is good – even though we know the good we ought to do and the evil we ought not to do – then we can’t really love anybody, not with genuine (agape) love. For genuine (agape) love requires obeying our Lord, in practice, and us no longer walking in sin.

Serving the Lord

Also, we are not to be slothful (lazy, idle) in zeal for God and in our service to him. But we are to be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. And this means that we are those who are following our Lord in obedience, who are living holy and godly lives, in his power and strength. We see Jesus, not just as Savior of our lives, but as Lord (Owner-Master) of our lives. And so we are to be following him wherever he leads us in doing whatever he has called us to do, in practice, in his power and strength.

We don’t see our salvation as just forgiveness of sin so that we can go to heaven when we die, but we see our salvation as deliverance from our slavery to sin so that we can now live godly and holy lives, in the power of God. And we don’t see the Scriptures as a drudgery or as something we have to read each day, but we see the Scriptures as the breath of life to us, and as God speaking his words directly to us, guiding us in the way that we should go, and empowering us to do what he commands.

But, now when we are serving the Lord, and when we are not at all being slothful in zeal, but we are passionate about obeying our Lord and serving him and doing his will, we are going to be hated, rejected, ostracized, cast out, forsaken, ridiculed, mocked, and persecuted by others who don’t know Jesus or who claim to know him but who are still living in sin. And some of these people could be family members, like Jesus talked about, or they could be others who profess faith in Jesus Christ but who are not living for him.

And so there will be times when we will cry out to God in our sorrow and in our suffering, and we will pray for his comfort and healing, and he will heal our wounded hearts, and he will comfort us with his love. And he will teach us patience and endurance, and he will grow us in him through what we suffer. But we are also going to cry out to the Lord praying for the salvation of our loved ones who do not know him, and for our enemies, that they would also come to know the love of God and salvation from sin.

And as we go through these trials and tribulations, and we are comforted of God, then we also gain compassion for others who are suffering and who are in legitimate need. And I say “legitimate” need because we live in a day and age when liars, deceivers, manipulators, users, tricksters and flim-flam artists abound. And many con artists will appeal to your good heart and your compassion and may trick you into contributing to them when they are not truly in need or the money is not going to what they claim. So be compassionate and be generous but also exercise godly discernment.

Lastly, we should be hospitable people. We should have people to our homes or to wherever we live and we should be willing to share with them whatever we have, even if we don’t have much, in the way of a meal or our time or in conversation. In this we show love to others, but not out of compulsion or to try to earn “brownie points” with God or with anyone, but because we legitimately love and care about other people and we want to friend them, and we want to get to know them, and we enjoy sharing our time and food with them. And that is good for us, too, to have company with others.

Come, Ye Disconsolate

Lyrics by Thomas Moore, 1816
Arr. by Thomas Hastings, 1831
Music by Samuel Webbe, Sr, 1792

Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot heal.

Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
“Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot cure.”

Here see the bread of life, see waters flowing
Forth from the throne of God, pure from above.
Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrow but heav’n can remove.

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