As we move forward, we read of Paul’s warnings to keep focused on God and His promises. Last week we saw Paul challenge us to outdo one another to show honor to one another.
Paul warns us no to be “lacking in zeal.” This means don’t be lazy or don’t be slothful. But we are to be eager and looking for those moments God has placed in our lives. Sometimes we can feel stuck like we are in some sort of rut. But that is what Paul is talking about here. Don’t get stuck in that mindset, but enter each day with the mindset that you will look forward to what God has in store for you.
Paul describes this mindset by telling us to keep our spiritual fervor. This word “fervor” can be described as boiling over. It is an interesting way to describe how we are to live. In everything we do, do it for the Lord in such a way that our spiritual zeal is boiling over.
Let your hope be the source of your rejoicing. Biblical hope is not wishful thinking. Like we might say, “I hope it doesn’t rain when I go golfing.” It is not an unsure wish of some future event. But it is a sure reality in the eternal promised by God. But we know that there are still events to play out between now and that promise that our hope gives us reason to be joyful. But sometimes those events come against us and are hard. Paul
But sometimes those events come against us and are hard. Paul then tells us to be “patient in affliction.” How many things will keep you standing when everything around you seems to be going wrong? God will be our strength, but this temporal relief might not come immediately. We are called to be patient during those troubled times.
Paul finally tells us to be “faithful in prayer.” This is not a formal invitation for some ritualistic prayer. Instead, it just means that when times are troubled (or if times are good) we need to just keep talking to God. Do you ever feel like you don’t have time to talk to God? Maybe you have too much going on, too stressed, too busy to talk to God? It is in those moments that we need to be diligent to talk to God.
It is interesting to see the transition Paul makes. He leads us to say that we are to give to the needy. We are to get outside our comfortable walls and working with the world. And the first thing that should be on our hearts is to use the gifts God has given to us and help those in need. He asks us to pursue hospitality. We are to be intentional to go out and help and bless others. In turn, we are called to bless those who pursue you (described by persecution.) It changes our perspective, and we are called to not call upon God to curse them, but further, we are called to bless them in the hope that they will pursue God instead.
Next week, we are going to see a challenge to rejoice when others rejoice and weep when others weep. Think about that over the next week. What does living in harmony look like when we live in a time that it is not easy to live on the same page with one another?
11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (ESV)
12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (ESV)
13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. (ESV)