Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
I. FERVOUR, in general, is opposed to lukewarmness or indifference, and denotes that edge or keenness, that activity and diligence, which we commonly exert in the pursuit of any object we highly value and wish to possess. Now the fervour whereof my text speaks hath religion, or the service of God, for its object. Love to God is the principle, the law of God is the rule, and His glory the end of all its operations. But as there are several counterfeits of this gracious temper, I shall endeavour to exhibit the properties of true Christian fervour.
1. That as the service of God is the proper object of true Christian fervour, this renders it necessary that we be thoroughly acquainted with the laws of God, that we may know what particular services He requires of us, and will accept at our hands.
2. As our fervour should be employed in the service of God, or in those duties that God hath plainly commanded, so it ought likewise to aim for His glory, otherwise it is unhallowed passion, which debaseth everything that proceeds from it. If God is glorified by his sufferings, the fervent Christian hath gained his end.
3. That this gracious temper extends its regards to all God's commandments. It declines no duty that bears the stamp of His authority.
4. The distinguishing property of true Christian fervour is this: It will make us peculiarly attentive to our own behaviour, and begin with correcting what is faulty in ourselves.
5. Though true fervour begins at home, yet it is not always confined there. It was the speech of a wicked Cain, "Am I my brother's keeper?" The warm-hearted Christian extends his good offices to all around him, and useth all that power and influence which his station gives him to discourage vice and to advance the kingdom of Christ in the world.
6. That this fervour must be always under the direction of Christian prudence, that it may not break out into indecent heats, and carry us beyond the limits of our office or station in the society to which we belong.
II. TO RECOMMEND AND ENFORCE THIS GRACIOUS TEMPER. Consider —
1. That God deserves the most zealous and active service we can pay to Him.
2. God not only deserves such service as I am pleading for, He likewise demands it, and will not be put off with anything less. If any imagine that Christ came into the world to relax their obligations to a holy life, they are grossly mistaken; and if they act upon that principle, they shall find themselves fatally disappointed at last.
3. A motive to fervour and diligence in the service of God ariseth from the difficulties that attend our duty. It is no easy matter "to pluck out a right eye, and to cut off a right hand." Besides, in the ordinary course of events, "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution" in one kind or other. Such are the difficulties that attend religion; and do not these make zeal or fervour necessary.
4. That we should be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; because it is absolutely impossible that we can do too much. One thing is certain, that the most serious Christians, when they came to die, have always lamented their former negligence; and the time is at hand when all the world shall confess that holy diligence was the truest wisdom.
Parallel VersesKJV: Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;