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Romans 12:11 (NRSV)

Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit,
serve the Lord.

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Bible Commentary

Romans 12:11 is a Bible verse from the New Testament where the Apostle Paul teaches us the marks of a true Christian.

The Apostle Paul was a great teacher and highly gifted by God. He called himself the chief sinner because he had supported and encouraged those who persecuted and killed Christians. That was before he met Jesus Christ and became a Christian himself.

He was chosen by God to teach the gospel, particularly to the Gentiles (non-Jews). Because of his experience and unique spiritual development, Paul was extremely qualified to teach the characteristics of a Christian.

As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we represent the Name of Christ, so it is imperative we know how to conduct ourselves. Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean we automatically have it all together.

It takes time following Christ and studying His Word to emulate the character and heart of Jesus. We all need goals to shoot for and grow into. It’s part of the journey and the excitement of being a Disciple of Christ.

Romans 12:11 is a specific instruction which is critical in the life of a believer if we are to be successful in any aspect of our life, but particularly if we want to bear much fruit for Christ, which He instructed in John 15:8,

“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

Romans 12:11 says, “Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.”

To see what Paul is talking about, let’s look at the word “ardent,” which is defined like this: 1) vehement in emotion or action; passionate; zealous; intense 2) Red; glowing; flashing 3) on fire, burning.

We’ve heard the term “burning passion.” That’s what Paul is talking about here. If we don’t have a desire, a healthy one, to serve the Lord and become like Him, we probably won’t.


As the late business philosopher Jim Rohn said, it’s easier not to grow than it is to grow. It starts with a desire in the heart. In Romans 12:11, Paul says not to lag in zeal, to be ardent in spirit.

But how do we change the desires of our heart? If we set goals out of obligation or some kind of insecurity, we won’t follow through. It’ll just fizzle out. There is a huge difference between being attracted versus being pushed.

Unlocking the Truth - Burning Passion

There must be something that lights a fire in our hearts that draws us to the goal. Fear will only drive us so far. Working out of obligation or insecurity wears us out. We get burned out and burned up after a period of time. But zeal! Zeal is different.

“Zeal” is defined like this: strong interest or devotion; intense enthusiasm. This word is used to describe God’s characteristic and His motivation for taking action in Isaiah 9:7 and Isaiah 37:32.

“Zeal” is also used to describe Jesus when he was on fire for His Father’s house. He saw the Pharisees using the temple as a place to make dishonest profits, which lit a fire inside Him. In great zeal He overturned their tables and ran them out. 

His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Your house will consume me." (John 2:17) 


The love and passion of God for His people is far more intense than we can humanly understand. God is love, and He is wild beyond our human capacity of understanding. His heart craves companionship with His children whom He created.

The idolatry of His people—chasing after false gods—caused Him excruciating pain and anger. Therefore, man has been separated from His intimate fellowship ever since the Garden of Eden.


It is only from our Heavenly Father's intense passion and love that we can garner our own. As Christians, we have access to His passion and power because of the Holy Spirit living within us. Therefore, we are one with Him, His heart and emotions.

You might not feel an intense love or passion yet, but if you are one with Christ, you have it in you. The Bible tells us to “stir up” the gift of God in us in 2 Timothy 1:6. That’s why Paul says be ardent in spirit.

We have a responsibility in the relationship. It is up to us to stir up the passion that lies dormant inside us. 

Pray and ask for God’s help. He will light the way. Study the Bible verse of Romans 12:11, be zealous in Jesus Christ so you can bear much fruit in joy.




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