Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
How many of us have gone on a diet, lost a lot of weight, and gotten rid of our “fat clothes?” A year later, we are in the same size we were before (maybe even a little bigger). Or, we start exercising in January. We wake up early to get to the gym, tell everyone how good we feel, high five our fellow “winners” as we walk in and head to the locker room. We wonder why everyone doesn’t start working out with us because we have found such joy in getting fit. However, by February we are pushing snooze and the gym seems stupid.
“We like the path of least resistance because we prefer our own comfort over accomplishment. In the end, laziness is our enemy.”
Why do we start strong and then turn into sloths? Why do we tend to go back to what we were instead of using our time and energy on this earth to be extraordinary? The main reason is because we like easy and we don’t like hard. We like the path of least resistance because we prefer our own comfort over accomplishment. In the end, laziness is our enemy. Starting strong is not impressive, finishing strong is very rare.
Matthew 24 describes what is going to happen in the days before Jesus’ return. Many preachers promise a great life on earth if you will give your life to Christ (and give them lots of your money). Jesus never did that kind of thing. He is the Truth and He always told the truth. He said things like,
“Then they will deliver you over to be persecuted and killed, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray and hate one another, and many false prophets will arise and mislead many. Because of the multiplication of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.”
“Jesus’ words don’t leave room for neutrality.”
Jesus never promised health and wealth. As a matter of fact, He warned His people very frankly before He left the planet. Jesus did not bait and switch. The Bible is not called “How to Win Friends and Influence People” for a reason. “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted….” (2 Timothy 3:12). Our lives should be so bold and countercultural, we should have to duck or pucker. People should want to hit us or kiss us. Jesus’ words don’t leave room for neutrality.
“The greatest way for hell to get filled up with our neighbors, friends and Facebook “friends” is for slothful Christians to populate the world. When we name the name of Christ without His power, we are detestable.”
The Christian life is a war. It’s not a war against people, it’s a war against ourselves and our tendency to be spiritual sloths. We do war against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places, but most people aren’t even a big enough threat for demons to worry about. The greatest way for hell to get filled up with our neighbors, friends and Facebook “friends” is for slothful Christians to populate the world. When we name the name of Christ without His power, we are detestable. We make people sick and in turn, they want nothing to do with God. We prove right what they think about so-called Christians. We are a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites.
“One thing Jesus made sure His disciples understood was following Him meant never living comfortably or in our comfort zones. He gets His will done by shaking things up.”
Powerless Christian should be an oxymoron, but it’s the norm. The word slothful is so much more than lazy. It means a person gets tired of waiting and becomes irked. God’s work becomes burdensome, therefore they become disinterested. Comfort becomes the main driver for their lives. One thing Jesus made sure His disciples understood was following Him meant never living comfortably or in our comfort zones. He gets His will done by shaking things up. Why? Our natural tendency is to hate change and love comfort. We want a bed of roses to be ours from the cradle to the grave.
You best find another savior if that describes you. That won’t fly in the Kingdom of God.
Paul said to “be fervent in spirit.”
Greek Definition: “to bubble over because hot enough to boil; to show great zeal; be ardently passionate (literally “boiling” with interest or desire).”
“We can’t be normal and stay red hot for God. We need power from another realm to not only start strong, but finish strong.”
How can a normal person maintain that attitude until death? We can’t. We can’t be normal and stay red hot for God. We need power from another realm to not only start strong, but finish strong. Jesus’ last words to His followers before He was taken into heaven were, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
He told them to wait for this power. When the day of Pentecost came, they all received the power of God and a boldness came over them and out of them. They filled the streets and God’s Spirit spoke through them. Persecution came and they didn’t get slothful and shrink back. They hit their knees and prayed,
“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”
“We have to go to God knowing we have a tendency toward comfort and laziness. We need to get on our faces and confess this tendency every day..”
They had to ask God to continue to do in them what they were incapable of. What was God’s response to this prayer? “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” (Acts 4:31). They were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, but we all leak. Just as a car needs to be refilled, we need the same thing. We are to serve God with all our hearts, but if we forget where our power comes from, pretty soon we will all be spiritual sloths. Yesterday’s heat will be stone cold today. We have to go to God knowing we have a tendency toward comfort and laziness. We need to get on our faces and confess this tendency every day and say, “Here I am God, enable this jar of clay to be filled with your red hot fire of boldness and holiness today. Do this so that the world may know that you are The Living God and you still move.”
“If we would be fervent in spirit, we would take God to people every single day.”
This world is hungry and thirsty for it’s Creator. They have no idea how to find Him. If we would be fervent in spirit, we would take God to people every single day. They wouldn’t have to come to the church to find God, because God would be able to sprinkle the whole world with His Presence as we go about our daily lives.
Jesus’ last words told the disciples that they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem (where they were), in all Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the world. How did He accomplish what He prophesied over them?
“On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.”
God scattered His people by forcing them out of their comfort zone. God has to do the same to us if we would follow Him and not our own made up religion. Religion makes sense, it’s comfortable, and makes us pillars in the community. Jesus rocks our world over and over again. He never lets us get too comfortable. He doesn’t mean for planet earth to be our home. He means for our treasure and our hearts to be in His kingdom. He means for us to pray, seek His face, and receive power from another realm to sustain us. When people see our lives, they may not like us, but they shouldn’t be able to explain us away. When we live for God, the wind of His Spirit will be felt far and wide.