Summary: God has given the gift of His Agape love to believers to be "exercised" in your daily life in Holy Spirit-filled ways.
In the Western World, so many people eat and exercise to be “Heart Smart”. It is far more important, though, for followers of Jesus to exercise God’s Love than it is to watch what you eat. We looked at Romans 12:9-10 over the last two weeks: “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.”
Today God adds 8 Critical Commitments to a HEART-Y EXERCISE plan in verses 11-13. Let your Christian life be: “not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.”
Heart-y Exercises strengthen your heart of Love for Christ, for the Body of Christ, and for those outside of the Body of Christ. Strap yourself in…hope you didn’t stay up too late last night and had your caffeine this morning!
1. In your Christian life you should “Not be lagging in Diligence”: Don’t be lazy in loving others, but quick to love others, just as God has loved you. Run toward the opportunity to show others the love of Christ, not away from it. Jesus had said in Matthew 25:26: “You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed.”
2. Commit to being “Fervent in spirit”: BE “boiling over” with enthusiasm and energy for Christ and love for others. Not COLD for Christ but energetic for Him and others. The word was use to describe boiling water and fermenting grapes. We are not to be lukewarm with Christ’s Spirit, “HOT” with His Spirit. Revelation 3:15-16 gives us an example: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot ; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.
3. “Serving the Lord”: Very simply it means Submitting to, obeying, and serving the Savior. If you have been born of His Spirit, it IS a privilege to be devoted to serving the Savior and others; What great Love He has had for me! How could I NOT serve Him? Jesus said in Luke 16:13: "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." We serve Him WHOLEHEARTEDLY because we belong to Him! Serving is not burdensome for Believers, it is a privilege!
4. We also exist, “Rejoicing in Hope”. (chairo-to rejoice exceedingly: You remember this word, associated with chara-joy, eucharisteo-give thanks, eucharistia-thanksgiving, charis-grace. Hope for the Christian is joyful and confident expectation of what God promises; we can trust implicitly and entirely in the TRUTH He has given to us and we TRUST HIM because His track record is impeccable. He is God, and we are NOT! We rejoice in His Grace GIVEN and anticipate what He will COMPLETE in us. We live in Joyful confidence for the future present and the future on account of God’s past history, not our own.
Colossians 1:23: “Continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the HOPE of the gospel (of Jesus Christ) that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven.”
I decided to take a little break from study so I picked up Tim Keller’s book, “The Reason for God,” and I opened to these words in the chapter “The Dance of God” (p 218):
Listen to this: “But wait you say…God calls us to glorify, praise and serve him. How can you say He doesn’t seek His own glory?” Yes, He does ask us to obey him unconditionally, to glorify, praise and center our lives around him. But now, I hope, you finally see why he does that. HE WANTS OUR JOY! He has infinite happiness not through self-centeredness, but through self-giving, OTHER-centered love. And the only way we, who have been created in His image, can have this same joy, is if we center our entire lives around Him instead of ourselves.”
How apropos! God desires our joy, and FOLLOWERS of Christ FIND JOY in serving and loving Him. If we have truly accepted and received His Love, we will serve others through self-giving and other-centered love and find “exceeding joy”.
Are you ALWAYS JOYFUL? Not hardly. It’s tough here! If you have had an easy and pleasant life then God hasn’t disciplined you, and you have not disciplined yourself. If you have it easy then you haven’t yet “denied yourself, taken up your cross and followed Him”. If you have it easy, you aren’t placing your life on the altar as a living sacrifice to Him. The next Critical Commitment is that you be…