Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.—Romans 12:11
I like the word “never” in this translation because it eliminates compartmentalization. I’ve known men in the church who lift their hands higher than all others during times of worship, but then use those same hands to steal from their boss or the government during the week. But we are “never” to be lacking in zeal—an upright passion steeped in integrity.
Similarly, this passage forbids the ever-common affliction of laziness. Driving to work today, I saw a high schooler from my neighborhood, recently released from the bondage of the school day for summer break, also out driving; I presume he too was heading off to work. But I wondered how many others—as I had been at times in my youth—were fast asleep in their beds, and would be till hunger prompted them to get up for lunch.
But again comes that all-important “never.” In business, in family, in relationships . . . we are to be fervent in every pursuit. And in our spiritual lives too.
And this fervency prompts the latter clause of the verse—serving the Lord. The outflow of true passion is always action. It is the stuff which starts businesses and produces whimsically romantic marriage proposals. When passion burns white-hot inside a person, it eventually escapes into warm-blooded action. And the same is true with our passion toward God. As we truly witness His character and cling to His promises through the power of His Word, we should be prompted to serve Him in our love—the love we show to our spouse, to our colleagues, to the lowly in society. The passion we feel for God produces pure acts of worship.
This is a truth that will grow us into better employees, spouses, community citizens, and church members. When passion is guided by the hand of God, great works follow.