Romans 12:11 “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.”
The goal of every Christian should be to serve the Lord! Ecclesiastes 12:13 says that the whole duty of man is to “Fear God, and keep his commandments.” Paul said in Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Psalms 150:6 says “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord!” If it is God’s intent for EVERY man to praise, fear, and obey Him, then it should be more evident in we who are saved! Ephesians 2:1 says “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” That word “quickened” means “To make alive!” If you will continue to read verses 2-9 you will see Paul explain that this quickening was by faith and not by our works! Paul then identifies the purpose of the Christian (we who are quickened) in verse 10. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them!”
The purpose of every Christian is to serve the Lord!
Romans 12:11 identifies two principles that help us to serve the Lord – Passion and Productivity! Serving the Lord is the destination, Productivity is the vehicle, and Passion is the fuel that is going to get us there! Examine carefully the definition of three words in our text:
Slothful: Idle; Inactive; Sluggish
Business: That which occupies the time, attention, and labor of men.
Fervent: Earnest; Excited; Passionate
We are not supposed to be idle in the work of the Lord! Our business should be the work of the Lord! That means that our TIME, ATTENTION, AND LABOR should be given to fulfilling the work of the LORD!
How much time do we give to the Lord? We spend 40 hours or more of our week at work. The average person spends 25%-33% of their day sleeping. Add in exercise, eating, family time, personal time, and overtime at work and there is not much room for spiritual activity! There are 10,080 minutes in a week. 1% of that is 100.8 minutes. What if we gave God 10% of our week? That is 16.8 hours! You might be thinking “That is crazy! I do not have 16.8 extra hours that I can give God!” Really? The truth is that you have time for what is important to you. According to a New York Times article written on
June 30th , 2016, the average American home watches 5 HOURS of television PER DAY. I wonder how effective we could become if we would serve God for an average of 5 hours per day! That would be 35 hours per week! I realize that starting off at 35 hours per week is hard. It will not come overnight. I used to frustrate myself by trying to be more spiritual than I was ready for. I would set lofty goals, but they were beyond my spiritual level at the moment and shortly thereafter I would end up quitting. I remember hearing preachers say “I pray for 2 hours every day” or “I read my Bible through 6 times in a year”. I would leave motivated by their routine and desire that for myself. As a teenager though I would start to pray and run out of things in five minutes! I would start to read my Bible and realize that I needed to read 25 pages a day to read it through six times! At the writing of this book I have been saved for more than a decade. Every year I have tried to do more for Christ than I did the year before! I want to get better! I want to spend more time with Him! I realize that I have a long way to go in my personal prayer and Bible reading. I am constantly finding ways to read the Bible and pray more. I doesn’t make me better than anyone, but it does help me draw closer to Christ! Christian, how much of your TIME do you give to the Lord? Do you just give the leftover minutes? Do you just give the unscheduled minutes? Do you even give God 10% of your week? If you do not, let me challenge you to start! Bible reading, prayer, and church attendance are the three easiest categories to start with! Let’s Devote more TIME to the work of God!
The next part of accomplishing the business of the Lord is giving it our ATTENTION. You can give God your time and go to church, but if you do not give your attention then you are wasting that time! Bible reading and prayer times are in vain if your attention is not given to them! Have you ever been at work or school in body when your mind was not? Usually someone says “Hey, earth to so-and-so, are you here?” You then respond with a cliché like “Sorry, I’ve got a lot going on” or “My head’s just not in the game today.” I wonder if that is the same reason you have stopped getting anything out of church, devotions, or prayer time? I know I have been guilty of letting my mind wander in church and my personal time with God. You must work on honing your thoughts to focus on the task at hand. You must train your mind to pay attention and adapt to the mind of Christ like we talked about in Chapter 4! There are three things that I believe you must keep in check if you want to give your attention to something, especially to the work of the Lord: 1. Priorities (schedule), 2. Distractions, and 3. Influences.
Having a scheduled time for things will help you to accomplish that task. When you are at work or school you know that you are supposed to be working on the tasks that are given to you. You should schedule times to read your Bible, pray, and go to church. That way if something comes up, you already have made up your mind about what you will be doing at that time. Example: It is 5:15 on a Sunday afternoon. Your in- laws call and ask if they can come (or tell you they are coming) over. You know in your mind that church is on your schedule at 6:00. You tell them yes, but you warn them that you all will be leaving shortly for church after they arrive. You invite them to come with you to church, or give them the option to come over some other time if they would like. Church is your priority and you have it on a schedule! Too many Christians end up skipping church and other spiritual activities because they do not put them into their calendar! Christian, decide that you are going to schedule time to be at church and to read and pray! This will help you focus on giving your attention to those things!
I remember going to an Indiana Hoosiers vs. Michigan Wolverines College Football game in 2017. It was my first time going to a football game on any level other than high school. As nice as the stadium and concession stands were, I didn’t spend my time gawking at them. I was there to watch the game! I didn’t spend much time on my cell phone. I was there to watch the game! I went with my brothers, my dad, and my grandpa. We had a good time of fellowship, but we weren’t there for the fellowship. You guessed it: WE WERE THERE TO WATCH THE GAME!
How come when we are watching a football game we know what we are supposed to be focusing on, but when we go to church we think about everything but the message? We look at the carpet, we count the ceiling tiles, we laugh at Brother Don’s funny tie, and we pass notes down the aisle. Focusing in church does take discipline and work, but it can be done! How come when we read our Bibles or pray we spend more time checking our cell phone during that time than anything else? I have an idea for us: Why don’t we shut off the phone and go to a quiet place to read and pray? Why don’t we turn off all electronic devices and pull out the actual copy of God’s Word? I understand you can’t always eliminate every distraction, but you should try to! If you want to be productive in the business of the Lord then you must work to give it your ATTENTION!
“Influence” literally means “a flowing into or on.” What you let influence you will affect what you focus your attention on. James 1:8 reminds us that “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
Romans 8:1-8 says “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” There are two mindsets that rage within us. While we have the mind of Christ, we also have the carnal mind. What you let FLOW into your mind will control what mindset you think in. When you try to let them both co-exist (double-mindedness), you will find yourself unstable! Example: If you stay up late watching TV laced with profanity, nudity, and violence on Saturday night, then do not expect to have the right mind to learn about God on Sunday Morning! If you fill your mind constantly with the world’s music (Rap, R&B, Country, Pop, Hip-Hop, Rock, and even some forms of ‘Christian’ music), then you will find yourself struggling with your Bible reading and prayer time. Why INFLUENCES affect your mind!
There are things in all of our minds that we have seen or heard that affect our attention. The Devil knows your weaknesses and he will try to bring those things to the forefront of your mind, especially when you are trying to focus on spiritual activity! The good news is that we have many Bible promises that we can stand on! Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me!” I John 4:4 reminds us that “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world!” Jesus said in John 16:33 “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world!” I Corinthians 15:57 proclaims “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” These are just a few verses that we can claim! We must seek God’s Help in keeping our attention on His Business!
If we are to do the business of the Lord, then we must realize that it requires work! Prayer is work! Bible Reading takes work! Soulwinning is work! Thomas Edison is credited for saying “The reason most opportunities are missed is because they come dressed in overalls and look like work.” This is where I fear many Christians are today. They want the blessings of God, but they do not want to work for them! They want their church to grow, but they want someone else to do it! They want a vending machine prayer life where they put a 50 cent prayer in and get immediate results from God! They want to only be at one service per week and they expect to get help from it (Maybe the services that they missed are the ones that could have helped them the most!). A quote I like about this subject is: “Sometimes the only way to get a lot of work done is to do a lot of work!” Matthew 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Do not misunderstand what Jesus is saying here. He is not saying that being a Christian gives you the right to take it easy! He is giving a promise: that if you work for Him instead of this old world, you will find rest for your soul!
If we are going to accomplish the BUSINESS of the Lord, then we must devote our TIME, ATTENTION, and LABOR to it! I don’t want to just check mark a Bible reading chart, I want to get something from God! I don’t want to just pray idle prayers, I want to get something from God! I do not just want to knock a certain number of doors to fill a quota, I want to see souls saved! LET’S NOT BE SLOTHFUL IN OUR BUSINESS OF SERVING THE LORD!
Pastor James Young
Living Hope Baptist Church | Jasper, IN
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