theme for may – WILLING SERVANTS OF GOD
Reagan Holland - BEHAVE LIKE A CHRISTIAN Alexander the Great, one of the greatest military generals who ever lived, conquered virtually the entire known world with his vast army. One night during a campaign he could not sleep and left his tent to walk around the army encampment. As he was walking, he came across a soldier who was asleep on guard duty—a capital offense. The penalty for sleeping on guard duty was death. Sometimes, in fact, commanding officers would pour kerosene on an offending soldier and then light it. As Alexander approached, the soldier began to awaken. Recognizing who it was that was approaching him, the soldier feared for his life. “Do you know what the penalty is for sleeping on guard duty?!” Alexander asked the soldier. “Yes, sir,” the soldier responded in a quavering voice. “Soldier, what is you name?” demanded Alexander the Great. “Alexander, sir,” he responded. Alexander the Great repeated the question, “What is your name?” The soldier again responded, “Alexander, sir.” For a third time, and loudly, Alexander the Great asked, “WHAT IS YOUR NAME?” Also for a third time, the soldier responded, meekly, “My name is Alexander, sir.” Alexander the Great then looked the soldier straight in the eye. “Soldier,” he said with intensity, “either change your name or change your conduct.” Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Bo Gray - Romans 12:11 As I read this verse using different versions I noticed some small words that were very significant to me. These words are: do, not, be, never, and keep (as in “keeping on”). I believe that Paul is telling me to persist and never give up in my service to God. Paul writes about this in several other places, as does the Hebrews writer: Romans 5:3 “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Hebrews 12:1-3 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” I urge all of us to never quit, to always do God’s work with zeal, to not be lazy, and to always keep on keeping on. Jack Vanderpool - LESSONS FROM A SLOTH Roman 12:11 “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” Several Bible translations in addition to the ESV caution us not to be “slothful in zeal.” When we lived in the Republic of Panama our house backed on a jungle area. At one point, we had a sloth show up in a tree bordering our back yard (they are native to Central and South America). The sloth is a hairy gentle creature and always looks like it is smiling. They live their lives upside down in tall trees and are slower than any other mammal. Rarely do they travel more than 125 feet in a day through the trees and during their rare trips to the ground they can only crawl 1-3 feet per minute. Their hair is covered with green alga that provides camouflage. Their primary diet is leaves and tender shoots and their digestive system takes an incredible 30 days to digest one leaf. So, my amplified translation of “do not be slothful” is: Don’t just hang around smiling. Get busy! Be zealous in the Lord’s service. There is much to be done and if you move too slowly, moss will grow on you! Pick up speed! Dine on a steady diet of God’s word even if digesting some of it takes a while. Do not be slothful! They may be cute, but they do not get much done.
Phil Robertson - Willing Servants of God I understand that living and growing as a child of God is a lifelong service. The challenge is in keeping the fervent spirit that I knew as a new Christian and that I often return to in times of great need and stress. However, when things are routine or going well personally, I tend to back off and just enjoy God’s blessings. The Holy Spirit recognizes this tendency and guided Paul’s hand in writing this verse for my study this month. Various translations use different words to capture this instruction and its importance in spiritual growth. “not lagging behind in diligence” (NASB), and “never lacking in zeal” (NIV), or “not slothful” (ESV, NKJV), or even the modern “don’t burn out” (MSG) combine to describe the proactive nature of my service to God and the constant attention I must pay to this task. Growth of any kind is the result of input, of balance, of practice/activity, and of commitment. The zeal and diligence that I apply to the input of my life (II Tim. 2:15, Gal. 5:22-23), the striving for faith (Phil. 4:11-12), the mental and physical activities I engage in (Col. 1:10), and the role that I understand as a servant of the living God (I Cor. 10:24) will result in the growth that I desire, and that God will grant in his mercy and grace. A short but very powerful verse!