One of my favorite teaching pastors is David Perkins, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. In one of his sermons, he says, “A FANATIC is what we call someone who loves Jesus more than we do.” Ouch. He is speaking sarcastically about our pride when someone is passionate about the Lord. I was reminded of this pointed commentary when I read Romans 12:11 today.
“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit.” (English Standard)
“Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit.” (New American Standard)
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor.” (New International)
Thank you, ESV and NASB, slothful and lagging behind are exact translations from the Greek word. A couple added definitions I want to include in our conversation are “sluggish, backward, lazy.”
The Greek word that is translated zeal and diligence means “earnestness in striving after something” or “giving all effort” or “effort toward forwardness” Along with those definitions, it certainly connotes “haste, hurry, urgency.”
You have surely heard the saying, “if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.” I believe that is Paul’s point. Literally, using two English definitions of the Greek words he chose, we could say, “don’t go backward in your effort to move forward.” How obvious is that statement?! What does this zeal and diligence look like in your life? How does your life display this whole-hearted effort toward spiritual growth? Is it 2-hour worship sets alone in your bedroom? Is it weekly prayer meetings with a friend? Is it sharing your faith in Jesus through the power of the Spirit when He leads? Is it reading great Christian thinkers to challenge your mind? Is it ending a relationship that you know is spiritual death to you? Is it reading through the Bible in 90 days with B90X? Is it a periodic fast? Is it listening to pastors from across the country through podcasts? Is it getting coffee with a mentor who you know will ask tough questions? Is it reading a single Psalm in honest prayer to the Lord every morning? Is it falling asleep talking to the One who created you? How are you being “earnest in your striving toward” Jesus? How are you “giving ALL effort…with urgency” to know God better? If the Holy Spirit is speaking to you, please listen to Him. He’s always right.
Oh man–now this is going to blow your mind–I know it did mine. The Greek word that is translated fervent?…it means “to boil with heat, be hot.” Think about boiling water. There’s movement. There’s intensity. Impurities are being extracted. The water can’t help but dance. The water is heated from an outside source–its only responsibility is to stay in the presence of the heat. Oh Jesus, help me to be on fire for you! What does that look like–to boil with heat for Jesus? Get in the Word and He’ll tell you. Get in His presence and He’ll do it. I don’t know what it looks like for you. I know what it looks like for me…and I want it…more and more….every day.
John Wesley said, “Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.” I think that pretty well sums it up.
Who is that person that you would call a “fanatic?” Pray for him/her today…that God would stoke up the fire and that they would never be lacking in zeal. It will kill your pride. I promise. Then, be a fanatic yourself.