Rejoice, Be Patient, Be Constant, but How? (Romans 12:11-13)
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. ¹²Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. ¹³Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. —Romans 12:11-13
I’m so glad God helps us in the practical, day-to-day living out of His will by giving us His Word. In order to become the acceptable “living sacrifice” that we are to present to God (Romans 12:1), and to discern His “good and acceptable and perfect” will through the transformation of our minds (Romans 12:2), God gives us very down-to-earth instructions and guidelines in the verses that follow. This week’s verses are a crucial part of those instructions.
Following last week’s passage about genuine love and affection for one another, we are now warned against being lazy in our devotion and service to the Lord. We must not allow our communion with God to become an activity to be checked off or a duty to fulfill. We need to remember Who is it we're worshiping as we open our Bibles. Focus on the wonderful works He has done in the past, both in Scripture and in our own redemption. Let the awe we once felt be the motivation for everything that He calls us to do moment by moment. Remember Jesus’ own motivation (Hebrews 12:2). Remember that it is the Lord we serve, not man or ourselves.
Verse 12 calls us to three things that we often find it hard to do. Rejoicing in hope can be difficult because of personal circumstances or the general despair so common in the world. Patience is especially challenging in our fast-paced culture. And constancy in prayer is not easy to maintain. How do we do these things? By allowing God to transform our minds with Scripture. We can saturate our thoughts with God’s own words and spend time meditating on passages that help us put our hope in God. The Psalms are a great place to find this hope. But only God can do the supernatural work of changing our hearts to be more like His Son Jesus who modeled for us the joyful, patient, prayer-filled life. This sanctifying work is accomplished in us through His Word and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
The next verse is incredibly practical as it relates to community. God provides for His children through His children. We are to meet the needs of others, especially those He’s put in community with us in our churches and the ministries in which we serve, as well as in our neighborhoods. We are to share what we have with others in need. For example, we might go through our closets with open minds and pass on to others with open hands what lies unused and often forgotten. We have been blessed in order to be a blessing to others. We are to welcome people into our homes and hearts. We are to demonstrate genuine love by the actions God prompts us to take. The more we obediently respond to His leading, the more we see God in action, and the more joy we receive as we fulfill His purposes in our lives.
Have you been lazy in spending time with the Lord? Have you been neglecting reading the Bible for what feels more urgent or comfortable? Ask God to reorient your priorities.
Have you focused more on your problems than on God who promises hope and help in difficulties? (Psalm 46:1; 121) Ask God to shift your gaze to Him.
Have you looked at what you own with an eye to what you could pass on to others, either directly or through an outreach of your church or other ministry? Ask God to make you a cheerful giver.
Lori Myers is a customer care specialist at Truth78 and loves serving in her local church. She has been using the Fighter Verses memory program since 2004, growing deeper in God's Word through daily practice. She is blessed to have two amazing daughters, two wonderful sons-in-law, and five adorable grandchildren.