fer*vent adj. "having or displaying a passionate intensity"
“Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:11 NASB
In the moments where I’ve been full-swing into the lows of depression, I know I have seriously lagged in diligence, been lackluster in spirit and straight up tanked when it came to my serving the Lord. It is hard when those waves of self-loathing, anxiety and heaviness of heart hit. What is harder is not wanting to bother or be bothered, which is interesting because the words lagging behind in the Greek can be understood as grievously slothful. That is like saying dangerously apathetic, gravely lethargic, and seriously sluggish. Those words paired together sound a lot like what I have experienced amid my clinical depression. Paul is basically telling us that we are not to give into this, we are to serve the Lord and one another with a fervent spirit and love.
Now, whether Paul had depression in mind when he wrote that statement, I can not say. That is the application I glean from it. As I have examined this scripture, though, it has given me peace to think that depression could be something God has provided me an out from. I mean, I can choose to focus on the good, the promises He has made, and relish in the joy of my salvation. I can choose to renew my mind with that which is pleasing to Him. I can decide that I am going to get out in the sun more and exercise, all of which have been known to help increase mood. I can choose to talk to friends I trust when those feelings creep up and find accountability if I start to droop. So, there are steps He has provided to being in a better state of mind.
I also find it interesting that being fervent in spirit, and serving the Lord comes on the heels of lagging behind, because sure, while clinical depression is an extreme application, Paul probably had laziness in mind when writing about lagging behind. It is interesting that Strong’s also defines it as tardy, indolent and irksome. As believer’s we can look at that in the context of the chapter and apply it to our commitments to one another, the way we perform at our jobs, our schools, within our marriages, even in our walk with Christ and how we serve Him! He tells us in the preceding verses to be devoted to one another with the highest respect and dignity, and then says to be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, after challenging us to not be irksome, lazy, indolent, gravely lethargic, all of which embody that phrase: lagging behind.
So, as believers, some of us could be better with our time management, the way we serve our loved ones at home, the way we serve our fellow believers at church, serving at our respective churches period and even the way we serve our communities! I know I have dropped the ball on this so many times. However, if I am to serve the Lord with a fervent spirit, my attitude and my heart must reflect that at home, at work and at church. After all, it is to Him that we owe our attitude of gratitude and He has asked us to be fervent in serving Him!
Where are you lagging behind? What is keeping you inactive and idle? Have you prayed on it? Have you considered serving at your local church or being of service to your neighbors, loved one’s?
Until Next Time