Living Out God’s Will (Romans 12:11-13)
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. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. —Romans 12:11-13
I’m so glad God cares enough to help us in the practical, day-to-day living out of His will by giving us His Word. In order to live out the acceptable “living sacrifice” that we are to present to God (Romans 12:1) and discern His “good and acceptable and perfect” will through the transformation of our minds (Romans 12:2), God gave very down-to-earth specific instructions and guidelines in the verses that followed. This week’s verses are a crucial part of those instructions.
Following last week’s verses on having 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 we are worshipping as we open our Bibles. Focus on the wonderful works He has done in the past, both in the Scriptures 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 whom we serve, not man or ourselves.
Verse 12 calls us to three things that we often find difficult to do. “Rejoicing in hope” can be hard because of personal circumstances or even the general despair rampant in the world today. Patience is especially difficult in our fast-paced culture. And constancy in prayer is a lifestyle that is not easy to maintain. So 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. And 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. We should try to 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 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 I been lazy in my time spent with the Lord? Have I been neglecting it because of the tyranny of the urgent or the comfort of my bed?
Have I been focused on the problems in life rather than on God who promises hope and help in difficulties? (Psalm 46:1; 121)
Have I intentionally looked at what I have with an eye to what I could pass on to others, either directly or through an outreach of my church or other ministry?