Summary: In life trouble is inevitable, but misery is optional. Think about that. You have a choice about whether you are going to be miserable about the problems in your life, and the way you deal with it determines whether you are miserable or not.
Open your Bibles, please, to Romans 12. I’m preaching through the book of Romans verse after verse and today we’re going to talk about, “Stop enduring life and start enjoying it.”
I heard about a fellow who didn’t get along very well with his wife. In fact, they just sort of endured each other. The only person he hated more than his wife was his wife’s mother, his mother-in-law. One day they were having a discussion, and they were being relatively civil. His wife said to him, “I know you don’t like me very much and I know the only person you dislike more than me is my mother.”
“That’s right.” He said.
“Would you do me one favor? If I die before you do, at my funeral, will you promise me that you’ll ride in the car with my mother, behind the hearse?” She asked.
“Now, let me get this straight. You want me to ride with your mother in the car behind the hearse at your funeral?” He replied.
“Okay, but it will sure take the joy out of the ride.”
I look around me, and I see a lot of people who are having no joy in the ride. They are just not enjoying life very much; they are just enduring it. There are people around us who are simply marking time, counting off days and months and years on the calendar. They’re the kind of people that think the next stage of life will bring happiness. You know, when you’re in school you say, “When I finally graduate from school and get a job, then I’ll be happy.” Then when you are single you say, “If I could just get married and have a family, then I would be happy.” Then when you are working you think, “When I can retire, then I’ll be happy.” When you get in retirement, you say, “What’s next?” Jesus Christ said in John 10:10, “I’ve come that you might have life and live it to the fullest.”
Several weeks ago I told you that the letters B.I.B.L.E. could stand for “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” But it could also stand for “Basic Instructions Building Life Enjoyment” because this book is all about how to live life. Sometimes people talk about the Bible as if it’s so mysterious and deep and theological and hard to understand. Well, friends, right here in Romans 12, we get some basic, plain, simple commandments of God about how we are to live. You just can’t miss it.
Look in Romans 12:11. Remember the context of this whole passage is verse 9 where it says, “Love must be sincere,” and then there follows 25 directives about how we are to love one another. Look in verses 11-13 as we study seven of them today. “Never be lacking in zeal, (that’s the first one) but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (This is a participle that ties in with the two previous phrases.) Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Then there are two more in verse 13) Share with God’s people who are in need, practice hospitality.”
Folks, that is not deep or mysterious or theological. Those are just basic, practical things that the Bible says we ought to be doing. We don’t do these things to become a Christian. We do these things because we are Christians. So I want us to examine these directives on how to enjoy life. We’ll put them under three categories.
I. WHEN COMPLACENCY CREEPS IN
When complacency creeps into your life, what do you do? When apathy or boredom creeps into your life, what are you going to do? Look at verse 11.
1. Serve Jesus with enthusiasm
I love that word. Sometimes people think that the more spiritual you are, the sadder you are, the less excited you are. But folks, the opposite is true. The word enthusiasm comes from two words, “en-theos.” “Theos” means God. The more in God you are, the more enthusiastic you will be. The apostle Paul was such an enthusiastic guy, with so much energy and drive, you could walk into a revolving door in front of him and he would walk out in front of you. He had that kind of excitement and drive.
In Colossians 3:23 he said, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men.” Do you know what I see as I look around me? I see people who are bored, because we are such an excitement, thrill-driven culture; we go from one adventure theme park to the next. We want to ride a roller coaster that is bigger and faster and goes further than the one we rode before. We are always looking for the next thrill. In between all of these artificial thrills and these action-packed movies and television shows, we sit back and say, “Boring, ho-hum, been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.” We have done it all.