not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; Romans 12:11-12 (NKJV)
This passage shows us how we should serve the Lord when we are serving Him in love.
Serve the Lord with joy. We are to rejoice in hope. Joy should be a normative part of the Christian life regardless of the circumstances we are facing. The life of a believer is not the end of joy and pleasure. Serving the Lord doesn’t require us to give up on having joy. Quite the opposite, Scripture teaches that in God’s presence is the fullness of joy and pleasures forever more (Psalm 16:11).
This joy allows us to rejoice even in the midst of suffering and hardship. It does this because of the hope we have in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we talk about hope from the Bible, it’s important for us to understand that Biblical hope is a farfetched wish that we would really like to come true. Instead Biblical hope is a well grounded, well found assurance that God will do what He has said He will do. The hope that is found in the Gospel looks forward and backward. It looks forward to the day when we get to be with Jesus in heaven. It also looks backward at the benefits of believing the Gospel that we received on the day we were saved.
All of the promises that are given in the Bible are true and they belong to every believer in Jesus Christ. Believers don’t have to wonder if they are saved. Believers don’t daydream about being saved. Believers don’t imagine what it would be like if they were saved. Believers are saved through faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore all of the promises of the Gospel belong to them.
As believers, are our sins forgiven? Yes.
As believers, is God working in us to make us more like Christ? Yes.
As believers, do we have a hope that is greater than all the sorrows of this life? Yes.
As believers, every promise of Scripture is ours. This gives us hope, a well grounded, well found assurance in God. Hope allows us to rejoice regardless of the circumstances of life.
Serve the Lord with endurance. We are to be patient in tribulation. The word for “patient” could probably better be translated as endurance. Endurance is to keep on keeping on when things get hard. There are going to be times when it is hard to serve the Lord.
It can be hard because we become discouraged.
It can be hard because people oppose us.
It can be hard because we don’t know exactly what we are to do.
It can be hard because we are afraid.
It can be hard because there are so many things trying to pull us away from serving the Lord.
It can be hard for any number of reasons but it will get hard. The question we have to answer is: what are we going to do when it gets hard. We can quit because it’s hard. Or we can press on in endurance.
The believer in Jesus Christ loves the Lord so much that he will serve the Lord with endurance. The book of Hebrews was written to a group of Jewish Christians that were struggling under the weight of persecution. The persecution was so severe that they were considering giving up on Christianity and going to Judaism. The author of Hebrews writes to encourage them to endure.
In chapter 10, he mentions some of the things they had endured during their persecution. They had endured a great struggle with suffering. They had been made into a public spectacle by people making fun of them and through tribulations. All of their worldly possessions had been plundered. This all have stopped if they had given up on Christianity but they didn’t. The author says the reason they didn’t was because God was giving them something better than world was taking away (Hebrews 10:32-34).
We serve the Lord with endurance because we know it’s worth it. We know that what we are doing has eternal significance. We know that hearing God say, “well done good and faithful servant” will be any amount of pain we have to push through to the end. What the Lord offers us is worth the pain that endurance brings. The Lord Himself is worth the pain that endurance brings.
Serve the Lord with prayer. Believers are to continue steadfastly in prayer. The idea here is that we are to be devoted to prayer. This means that we will make prayer a regular part of our lives. Prayer should be such a part of our lives as believers that when things come up that keep us from this regular time of prayer, we should feel off. We should feel as though something were missing from our lives.
Praying to the great God of heaven is one of the greatest and most amazing privileges we have as believers. Our devotion to prayer flows out of our love for the Lord. Since we love God we want to spend time praying to Him. It should be fairly natural for us to spend time praying to God. There shouldn’t be anything awkward or uncomfortable about it because we love God and we know that He hears our prayers.