Fervency isn’t bull-headed pride; it’s informed, humble faith that produces bold passion – being so convinced of God’s word (informed faith) that it convicts us (humility) and compels us to speak God’s truth to others (bold passion).
The phrase “fervent in spirit” is seen only twice in scripture. Paul uses it in verse 11 of Romans 12:9-21, where he instructs us in how to behave as Christians (this passage is the basis of my new Bible study, 30 Days to Living a God Life not Just a Good Life). Quoting my study, here’s what Paul means:
…having such an intense passion for what is good or bad that your fervor overflows like boiling water.
To be fervent in spirit with a lower-case s is for our thoughts, knowledge, desires, feelings, decisions and actions to be an outflow of our intense passion for what is good and bad. It is for zeal to animate and govern who we are and what we do.
The object of our passion becomes the source of our zealousness, and Titus 2:14 tells us Jesus “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
If the object of my passion is me, then I’ll be zealous for what serves my selfish motives. If the object of my passion is Jesus, I’ll be zealous for what serves His interests.
The second use of “fervent in spirit” is found in Acts 18:25 to describe an eloquent Alexandrian Jew named Apollos. We encounter him in Acts 18:25-28 and 1 Corinthians 3:5-6, 4:6 and 16:12. What stands out to me about him is that he had been instructed in the way of the Lord, he lived out the commands of Christ, and he boldly spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord. He lives a pattern for us to follow to be “fervent in spirit”:
Input: Reading, studying and knowing what God’s word says.
Doing: Living His word in our daily lives.
Output: Boldly speaking and teaching others in how to know and live scripture.
Let us be fervent in spirit today!