Earley: Do you have enough zeal?

Published 11:53 am Friday, October 14, 2016

By Al Earley

Sun columnist

A telephone sales person makes a call and can easily tell the person who answers the phone is a child, and he is speaking very softly. He asks, for the child’s father to which the child whispers, “He’s busy.” He asks for the mother, and receives the same response, “She’s busy.” He asks about an older brother or sister. They are busy too.

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He finally asks, “What are all these people doing that keeps them so busy?”

The boy giggles and responds, “Looking for me.”

Most people like to stay busy, or at least they like to look like we’re busy. In Romans 12, Paul makes a list of marks of the true Christian. In verse 11 he writes, “Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.” Many of us interpret the third phrase, “serve the Lord,” as putting our faith into action. To be faithful in that way, we use our God-given time and talents in a whole host of activities. However, it doesn’t take too many activities to begin to “lag in zeal.”

Have you ever gotten so busy serving the Lord and doing stuff that you really started to “lag in zeal?” There are so many organizations, community groups, activities that our kids and grandkids are involved in and church activities we want to support. We can’t do them all. I know many people have come to the opposite point that they want to simplify their lives by doing nothing more than what they have to. They have no zeal at all.

So what is the faithful Christian to do? When Paul told the Romans not to “lag in zeal,” he also told them to stay “ardent in the spirit.” This is the key to avoiding exhaustion when we serve the Lord. We need to be disciplined in prayer, seeking the Spirit’s guidance as to how to use our time and talents to God’s glory. God does not want us to collapse in exhaustion, wishing we could just quit everything. He has a wonderful plan for our lives that will use the gifts and talents He has given us to be a fulfilling experience in life.

Perhaps we must let go of some of the activities we are doing, but which ones? Sometimes it seems that things would fall apart if we quit them. Other things we enjoy more, but they don’t really require much of us. The question is not which activities do I want to do, but which activities does God want me to do? If you don’t have time to pray about such matters, then you can be sure the time is now to take a good look at whether you use your time and talents to God’s glory or your own.

Have you ever noticed that the first thing to go is prayer and Bible study when we get so busy? Then we let regular worship begin to slip. And then slowly, subtly, the third thing to go is God, and we don’t even realize it.

Be open as well to the possibility God may be calling you to take a chance and try something new. There are times in our lives when we are ready to begin new ministries in our service to the Lord. The key is to be doing the things God calls you to do, that God can be glorified through you. I’m not writing this to add to your busy schedule. If God is calling you to something new, He is also probably calling you to not do other things that don’t matter as much to Him.

Have you ever sat down with pencil and paper and reflected on how you use the time each day that God has given you? Do you spend too much time checking out on TV, Facebook, computer games or other screens? Are you as busy as you want people to think you are? How much of the time God has given you do you spend serving the Lord? How much of the time God has given you do you spend doing the things you know God has called you to do?

I know every time I have set aside some time to pray about how God wants me to use His gift of time He has broken through the thick walls I had put up to prove to everyone I can do it all. Once God broke through, I knew some painful decisions had to be made. But I know they were the right decisions, as I was able to care for my wife and children much better. How is God calling you to use your time and talents?

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see www.lagrangepres.com.