J. Gordon Duncan

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Love Honor and Obey Part 2

Part 1 of this series appears here

11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Verse 11 cracks me up.  I’ve never heard of anyone who was slothfully zealous, but just in case there are a few of you out there, Paul says don’t be slothful in zeal but instead be fervent in spirit while you serve the Lord.  Can any of you remember a time in your life where the living out of your relationship with Christ could be described as zealous and fervent?  If you answer some long ago time or never but not right now, you are not experiencing the life that God intends for you to live.

Well what these 2 verse do is give us a picture of what the life in Christ is supposed to look like.   In fact, these 6 quick exhortations from Paul are what outdoing each other in honor would look like.  Check them out.

  • Do not be slothful in zeal.
  • Be fervent in spirit.
  • Serve the Lord.
  • Rejoice in hope.
  • Be patient in tribulation.
  • Be constant in prayer.

Now there is nothing harder to do as a preacher than preaching on a list of commands if you want to do it right.  You see the easy thing to do is for me to stand up here and bellow to you:

  • Quit being so lazy!
  • Be fervent!
  • Serve!
  • Oh, and you better have joy while your doing it.
  • Oh, and you better enjoy hard times as well.
  • What?  You haven’t prayed constantly?  No wonder you are miserable.

And believe it or not, plenty of preachers preach this passage this way and plenty of people show up every Sunday to get a brand new heaping helping of guilt to keep them going.  But there is so much more going on here than just finding new ways to make you feel guilty.  If zeal, fervency, joy, patience, service, and prayer were easily attained, all of us would be walking around singing zippedity do da.  But alas, these are pretty rare qualities even in Christian community.

They key to walking in these qualities is to avoid the mistakes of the folks who went before us.  Listen to Romans 10:1-4

10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Paul makes a point here that it is possible to have a zeal for God and a zeal for trying to obey and completely miss both God and obedience.  The Jewish people of Paul’s day pursued obedience as a means to an end.  They thought that knowing God was obedience to His commands.  While obedience is essential to the life of faith, the Jewish people got it turned around.

Knowing God is not obedience to His commands.  As verse 4 says, Jesus’ obedience to God’s commands is our hope for knowing God.  In fact, Jesus’ obedience in life and death means an end to the attempt of knowing God by His commands.  If you would like to exhibit zeal, fervency, joy, patience, service, and prayer, then pursue Jesus and His absolute complete and sufficient work on your behalf and find those qualities become evident in your life.  If you attempt to do those things without faith, you will fail and miss God in the process.

Verse 3 says that seeking to gain righteousness or goodness on your own is being ignorant of God’s righteousness gifted to you through Jesus.  Jesus is the end of the struggle for righteous.   Why?  Because He has given you His.

Wouldn’t you love to be zealous in your faith, work, and life?

Wouldn’t you love to describe your life as true service to God?

Wouldn’t you love to be fervent in your Spirit withstanding anything that comes your way during the day?

Wouldn’t you love to be patient in tribulation and not just wish away every bad thing that happens to you seeing a true purpose for everything that God has ordained for you?

Wouldn’t you love to constantly be in prayer and communication with God?

Think about Jesus on the Mount of Olives in Luke 22 as He agonized alone before His crucifixion.  In that one moment on your behalf, He displayed every one of these qualities.  There He zealously prayed and pursued God’s will.  He offered His every moment and thought as a service to God.  He fervently sought His Father.  He was patient in both the tribulation of His lazy disciples and His traitorous friend Judas.  He prayed with such constancy that He sweat blood.  And Jesus did all of these things on your behalf.

Folks, I will never discount the hard work of faith, prayer, Bible study, and obedience to God.  But all of those things only come as a byproduct of your pursuit of Jesus’ full completion of each one of those things.  Many of you right now are completely and absolutely frustrated in the outworking of your Christian life.    You either can’t muster an ounce of energy for your life of faith or you are so desperately trying to overcome sin and you are an utter failure at both.

Pursue your sweet Savior.  Pray to know him better.  Pray that God would grant you a rest in Jesus’ righteousness.  Pray that you would exhibit these wonderful qualities but only as evidence that you have been with Jesus.

Then we are ready to outdo each other with honor.  How?  We see that exhibited for us in verse 13.

Part 3 will be posted later today.

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January 18, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Love Honor and Obey Part 3 Part 1 of this series appears here while Part 2 appears here. […]

    Pingback by Love Honor and Obey Part 3 « J. Gordon Duncan | January 18, 2010 | Reply


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