What does it mean to be spirit-filled (Romans 12:11)?
Paul writes, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be passionate in heart, serve the Lord.” This exhortation calls on Christians to love and serve one another with both sacrifice and enthusiasm (Romans 12:11, ESV).
The prohibition against slothful zeal can be translated as “do not be lazy.” Do not lack effort (NIV), “never be lethargic” (NLT), or “never be lacking in zeal” (KJV) (HCSB). To “be fervent” in the Greek means to have intense passion or excitement. The image conjured up is that of water bubbling in a pot on a stovetop. Paul’s exhortation for Christians to “be fiery in spirit” refers to allowing their lives to serve as a living testimony to the vivacious presence of the Holy Spirit, much like water boiling over a fire. A pot of water at the stove is lively, churning, and producing both steam and heat. It is not dormant, inactive, or indifferent.
Paul urges Christians to pour their entire heart and soul into serving others in the name of the Lord. Paul exhorts the Corinthians, “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Work wholeheartedly for the Lord, because you know that anything you do for the Lord will always be worthwhile (1 Corinthians 15:58, NLT). Our vocation as saints requires us to cherish chastity, to love wholeheartedly, and to serve God with all our being (1 Peter 1:13–22).
He had been trained in the way of the Lord,” the Bible says of Apollos, therefore the phrase “fervent in spirit” is used to characterize his work there once more. Being full with the Holy Spirit, he proclaimed and preached the truth about Jesus, even though he was only familiar with John’s baptism (Acts 18:25, ESV). Understanding what it means to be “fervent in spirit” is greatly aided by this verse. Passionate and well-versed, Apollos was an asset to any team. Apollos was already a valuable asset to the church, but with Priscilla and Aquila’s help, he blossomed into a leading figure.
Emotionalism has no place in spiritual enthusiasm. A firm grasp of the Bible, discernment, and spiritual insight are necessary counterbalances to blind zeal (Romans 10:1–4). Without education, religious fervor can lead to disastrous consequences (Philippians 3:6; Galatians 1:13–14; 4:17–18).
Paul calls out Titus and a host of other believers who were full of the Holy Spirit and eager to serve God (2 Corinthians 8:16–17; 9:2; Galatians 2:10). Passionate people, as described by Peter, are willing to “turn from evil and do good” and “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:10–13).
Peter exhorts his fellow pastors, “watch for the flock that God has given to you. Be its guardian cheerfully rather than resentfully, not because of what you can get out of it but because you’re ready to serve God (1 Peter 5:2, NLT). The apostle Peter implores his readers to “be much more diligent to make your call and election definite,” writing in 2 Peter 1:10, “because if you do these things you will never fall” (NKJV). Peter insists once more: “Be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace” (2 Peter 3:14, ESV).
To “say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age while we wait for the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” is possible only through God’s grace and the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts (Titus 2:11–14).
Perhaps the best approach for Christians to be spiritually fervent is to cultivate the Holy Spirit’s gifts and the Spirit’s fruits, both individually and corporately (1 Corinthians 12:1–13:13; Galatians 5:22–26). Rather of being driven by personal gain, we should work together to strengthen the church (Romans 12:3–8; 1 Corinthians 14:12). Prayer and Bible study should be a priority for the spiritually fervent (Ephesians 6:18; James 5:16). (Acts 17:11; Romans 12:12; 2 Timothy 2:15; James 5:16; Colossians 4:2).