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  • Writer's pictureTrace Pirtle

Be Fervent in Spirit

Updated: Jan 17

This post is a short Bible study review of Romans 12:11 while we are still on the Thanksgiving holiday. It reminds us to be full of zeal and fervent in spirit. How are we doing?

Have you read a chapter or even a paragraph, closed the book, and then wondered what you just read? Sometimes we can't recall a single detail, and other times our comprehension is skewed. Only after multiple re-reads do we finally "get it." That's how Romans 12:11 was for me. Can you relate to this?

Are We Fervent in Spirit?

As with many Bible verses that address human behavior, as I read, I immediately default to the old me, the analytical me. Essentially, if it's a behavior or trait we want to study, we can. Just define the terms and agree on how we will measure them.

So, we want to consider zeal (diligence) and fervent spirit (passionate/on fire). In that case, we define our terms and agree upon our question and how we evaluate it.

This is where my downward slide into frustration started. It's not easy to define zeal and fervent when each is from God's perspective. If God is the "evaluator," then He defines the terms (not us). And, if this is true, how do we know how He judges our zeal and passionate spirit? So when we ask, "are we fervent in spirit," I'm left with the response, compared to what or whom?

You already understand the spirit and intent of the Apostle Paul's message to the Romans. Not me. I went down the rabbit hole, dragging the Holy Spirit along with me, asking Him questions all the way. For example,

  • If God uses a standard to evaluate our "zeal" and "fervent spirit," why can't we know what it is? After all, it is easier to play a game if we know the rules, right? Holy Spirit says, "What's your next dumb question?"

  • Since these are "subjective" terms, God must evaluate us on a sliding scale, a continuum perhaps? Or He may use the simple pass/fail option. But how are we supposed to know whether we clear the bar? Holy Spirit says, "You can't be that dim, can you? But I love you for trying!"

So I go back and re-read that verse again and again. At that point, the Holy Spirit went to take a nap while I was in remedial Bible study. Suddenly, the lightbulb moment happened. The sunshine came through the clouds, and I got it. Just BE fervent in Spirit. It's not complicated.

To Be Fervent in Spirit

You already know this, but we are not in a competition to show how much zeal we have as followers of Christ. It's not a public show. So we don't need to fret over God's scorecard or how He is evaluating us.

God isn't asking us a question; instead, He's presenting a simple directive "to be" a certain way. Apostle Paul is talking about verbs: to be diligent and passionate as we serve the Lord. To be fervent in spirit is Godly, but to be lukewarm in spirit is not.

Although God may not evaluate the degree to which we are fervent in spirit, He is evaluating us, and scripture tells us so. For example, if we think of two conditions we can choose to be in, fervent or lukewarm, the first is a "PASS" while the second is a "FAIL." Remember what Jesus told the church in Laodicea about being lukewarm (see Revelation 3:15-16).

Concluding Thoughts

There may be times when God wants us to consider His Word metaphorically. Other times we need to use wisdom and discernment while cross-referencing verses across the old and new testaments. There is also a time when we appear before Jesus for our "rewards." That must involve a life assessment in which we account for every aspect of our lives. But if we take Romans 12:11 at face value, that we are to be full of zeal and fervent in spirit as we serve Jesus, then that face-to-face with Him should go well. I pray that it does for you!

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About Me

Image of Dr. Trace Pirtle sitting on park bench identified as Jesus.

Greetings, I'm Trace!
I'm a retired counselor education professor who spent 35 years in the "helping professions." I'm a U.S. Air Force veteran who served as a Missile Launch Officer with I.C.B.M's during the Cold War (1980's). Today, I'm an "all-in" believer working full-time for our Lord Jesus Christ. I've included my personal testimony if you are interested. 
May God bless you beyond your wildest dreams!

In His Service,

Trace Pirtle

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