Romans 12:11How do we keep our enthusiasm (or zeal) for God? How do we maintain our love for him, for his word and our love of obeying him? How do we never be lacking in our passion for serving him?
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.
They're the type of questions I've been working through lately - it's so easy to read the bible as just an academic exercise, to obey God out of mere duty. But to do it out of love? To love doing it because it's in service of our creator and saviour - that's entirely different, and I don't entirely know how we keep doing it.
Never be lacking in zeal.
The thing about our relationship with God is that it is never static. We are always either coming closer to him or further from him in our lives. We are either trusting him or relying on something else. We are either worshipping him or another. But how do we keep our enthusiasm for God? Here are a few thoughts:
- In some senses it does come down to a choice. We need to choose to serve God and to live for him. We need to choose to obey him. Without our choice to serve God and to live entirely for him with zeal, we will not do it. So that's a good first step. But how do we facilitate that? How do we make it real and genuine?
- The second thing to do it pray. God alone can change our hearts, and he alone can make us more like him. If we want to live for him and to love him we need to ask for his help - only he can replace our hearts of stone with ones of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). We need to pray constantly and consistently for God's help. He may not seem to answer straight away. he may not answer how we want. But he always hears the prayers of his people and he always does what is for our good (Romans 8:28).
- To love God we need to know him. To do that we need to read his word. We also need to reflect on his promises and his faithfulness - all he has done for us and for his people. Most of all: reflect on Jesus and what he has done for us and how unfathomable that love is. When we consider all God has done and recognise the depths of his love it's easier to love him back and therefore to live for him.
- Serve God. As we give our lives to God and invest them in serving him and as we store up riches in heaven, our hearts will be there also. Part of that involves removing our idols from our lives - we need to consider what we put before God in our lives and remove it from that place however possible. That's hard work! But to love God first we need to get rid of everything that's in the way. (1 John 2:15-17).
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.What are the works we did at first? Repentance and faith. We need to "confess our sins" because "he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." God will forgive us and if we genuinely turn back to him he will save us and bring us back to him. Pray, ask for his help and work at the things above!
I hope they were helpful thoughts, fell free to comment if you have any thoughts or other ideas.