I think the Apostle Paul would’ve enjoyed making use of bullet points if he’d had a computer to write his epistles.

There’s an amazing little quick-hits list of instructions tucked away in Romans 12 that bullet points would’ve been perfect for. It says, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:11-12).

Wow! That little list covers a lot! But when you look a little closer, what do you see?

I see: Heart, heart, action, heart, heart, action.

And if I wanted to expand on that, I could write:

  • Look to your heart,
  • Look to your heart,
  • Check your actions.
  • Look to your heart,
  • Look to your heart,
  • Check your actions.

That’s an illustration of how a life of following Jesus is meant to be more than simply working hard at activities that can actually be done by our own strength and initiative. Because even though it’s possible to mechanically plod on and on in those deeds of serving and prayer without even looking to God for strength, following Jesus includes attitudes of the heart that I doubt we can persist in for even one day without his help.

Zeal, fervency, joy, patience. It should get our attention that God’s Word calls for straight-forward obedience in these sometimes elusive heart-postures. I believe such clear commands regarding such subjective matters are meant to motivate us to spend time with Jesus. It’s only by doing so that those very qualities of Jesus will grow in our heart so that our serving and praying will then be expressions of devotion rather than mechanical plodding.

After all, Paul’s desire wasn’t that his readers devote their lives to seeking the various items in a list. He wanted them to devote themselves to seeking the Person of Jesus, who wants to be all of those things in our hearts.

Only then will our hearts become the seedbed of the God-inspired deeds that are meant to bloom and flourish in the lives of every follower of Jesus!

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