Walking With Christ

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Webers.Home

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#1
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There's been times during my twenty-three plus years of internet forum
activity when I've encountered people wanting to know what they're
supposed to do now that they decided to become a Christian.

A mega Baptist church that I attended back in the decade of the 1970's had
a discipleship program that incorporated an outreach booklet called "The
Four Spiritual Laws
" authored in 1952 by Campus Crusade for Christ founder
Dr. Bill Bright.

Those guidelines are helpful as far as they go, but they're pretty elementary
and in my opinion inadequate for taking Christ's believing followers to
infinity and beyond, so to speak.

Some years ago, just for the fun of it, I set out compiling a home-spun
catalogue of Christ's instructions from the new Testament that apply to all
his followers regardless of denominational affiliation. In time I realized that
his instructions, accompanied by a little commentary, would make a pretty
good how-to handbook; and a blog too.

I chose to start in the book of Acts because that's pretty much where
Christ's apostles began telling his believing followers what to do in accord
with the Lord's instructions as per Matt 28:19-20.
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Webers.Home

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#2
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Acts 15:20 . . Abstain from food tainted by idols,

Here's the text of a common Christian prayer.

"Bless us, Oh Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from
thy bounty through Christ, Our Lord. Amen."

That prayer credits the providence of God for the nourishment on the table.
Well; in the old Roman world, they sometimes credited the providence of a
pagan deity for their nourishment. According to 1Cor 10:25-31; this is one
of those don't ask situations; we'll get to that.

Acts 15:20 . . Abstain from promiscuity

Promiscuity typically refers to things like adultery, incest, shacking up, one
night stands, sleeping around, etc.

"It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual
immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way
that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do
not know God." (1Thess 4:3-5)

Acts 15:20 . . Abstain from the meat of strangled animals.

Strangulation is a slow, inhumane way to die. If you know that the meat
you're being served came from an animal that was choked to death,
consider it food fit only for barbarians. We want nothing to do with animal
abuse.

Acts 15:20 . . Abstain from blood

In other words: Christ's followers are forbidden to imbibe blood as a
beverage.

There are cultures that poke holes in cows' necks in order to drink blood
straight out of the living animal utilizing its own blood pressure like a tap to
fill their cups; a rather ghastly thirst that might be okay for Edward Cullen's
family but certainly not for us.
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Webers.Home

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#3
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Rom 6:11 . . Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

"dead to sin" in this case doesn't mean Christ's sheep can't, won't, and/or
don't sin (cf. 1John 1:8-10). It means that sin can no longer give God cause
to slam them with the sum of all fears.

Rom 5:12-21 explains, in so many words; that Christ's believing followers
are accounted as having gone to the cross with him similar to accounting
them as having tasted the forbidden fruit with Adam. This principle is at the
very core of Christianity's plan of salvation so it's important to get it.

In a nutshell: When Jesus went to the cross; he died for the sins of the
world from first to last. That being the case, then when his believing
followers went to the cross with him, they died for their sins from first to
last. As a result: when the books are opened as per Rev 20:11-15, there will
be nothing on record with which to charge them. (cf. 2Cor 5:19)

FYI: Rom 6:11 is an order, and Christ's believing followers are expected to
obey it.
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Webers.Home

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#4
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Rom 6:12-13 . . Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its
evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of
wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been
brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as
instruments of righteousness.

If I'm understanding John 5:24-25 correctly; Jesus spoke of a non-physical
resurrection that his believing followers undergo in this life-- now --before
they pass on.

It's a pretty good resurrection too because it doesn't rejuvenate ordinary
life, rather; it's a step up to eternal life-- a superior kind of life that brings
with it not only immortality, but also a change from human nature to divine
nature. (2Pet 1:4)

Anyway, the point is: Christ's non-physically resurrected followers really
should make an effort to walk as insiders who live in heaven rather than
outsiders on their way to the other place. Political theorists like Niccolò
Machiavelli would not recommend Christ's way of life of course because in
this world, situation ethics are better; viz: the end justifies the means so
long as the end, no matter how obtained, benefits the so-called greater
good.

Well; to my knowledge, Machiavellian thinking doesn't fly in heaven so it's
best for those "brought from death to life" to avoid it.
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Webers.Home

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#5
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Rom 12:1 . . Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto
God, which is your reasonable service.

The Greek word for "sacrifice" technically refers to a victim; but it's not
always applied that way. For example speaking well of God, doing good, and
sharing are legitimate sacrifices. (Heb 13:15-16)

The sacrifice required by Rom 12:1 is a living sacrifice rather than deceased
so Christ's followers don't have to martyr themselves in order to fulfill it; but
their bodies do have to be holy in order to be accepted; which means
avoiding things that defile their bodies like indecency, promiscuity, adultery,
and LGBTQ stuff.

The Bible calls those avoidances "reasonable". In other words: Is it asking
too much of Christ's followers to keep themselves pure?
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Webers.Home

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#6
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Rom 12:2 . . Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the
renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and
acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Christianity, when taken seriously, can't help but radically change the way,
the what, and the how we think about things in this life and in the next.

Personal Bible reading is a good place to begin with Rom 12:2; however, the
will of God isn't meant to be self-taught; it's meant to be instructed by
teachers empowered by God for that specific purpose. (Rom 12:4-8, 1Cor
12:1-30)

"Are all teachers?" (1Cor 12:29)

No, not all are teachers. Only some are teachers and the rest of Christ's
believing followers are supposed to be students, i.e. disciples.

"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists;
and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the
work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in
the unity of the faith" (Eph 4:11-13)

According to that passage, the goal of God-given teaching is unity. Well,
when Christians come together with differing perspectives-- debating and
engaging in perpetual bull sessions that never get to the bottom of anything
--we're in danger of becoming divided and taking sides as rivals and
intolerant bigots instead of unified. Like it's said: Too many cooks spoil the
soup.

Sermons and Sunday school classes are Christianity's traditional sources of
teaching. But there's radio programs too, e.g. Thru The Bible with Dr. J.
Vernon McGee. These days with radio, television, and the internet; God
given, Spirit-enabled teaching is wide-spread and readily available.

In centuries gone past, it was necessary to go where Christ's teachers were
in order to hear them speak. Nowadays, they come to speak right where we
are by means of electronic gadgets.
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Webers.Home

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#7
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Rom 12:3 . . I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is
among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but
to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of
faith.

"soberly" is from the Greek word sophroneo (so-fron-eh'-o) which means to
be of sound mind, i.e. sane, sensible, rational.

A popular saying going around is this: "You can be anything". No, you can't
be anything, and it's unreasonable to think otherwise. Know your limits and
stay within them; don't be setting impossible goals for yourself; especially in
matters of faith and practice.

"Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members
do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one
body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts,
according to the grace given us.

. . . If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If
it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is
encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others,
let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is
showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully." (Rom 12:4-8)

Some church managers have a really bad habit of recruiting people to teach
Sunday school who don't have a gift for it in accordance with Rom 12:3-8,
1Cor 12:1-30, and Eph 4:7-12. Well; if teaching is not your spiritual
specialty; then the sensible thing to do is turn them down. Stay within your
limits like Rom 12:3 says, and don't let those managers pressure you into
submission by making you feel guilty for refusing. Nobody gains points with
Christ by going off-reservation.
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Webers.Home

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#8
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Rom 12:6 . . If God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when
you have faith that God is speaking through you.

The Greek word for "prophesy" in that verse is from propheteia (prof ay-ti'
ah) which encompasses predictions. Predicting was common in the early
church; for example Agabus at Acts 11:27-28 and Acts 21:10-11.

Hunches don't count as God speaking through you. You have to really know
it. Don't ask me how to really know it because I don't have the gift; nor do I
want it. There was quite a bit more acceptance of paranormal activity back
in Paul's day; but in our day, prophecy mongers are written off as kooks.

NOTE: One of my dad's favorite ways to annoy mom was to ask her how she
didn't know if maybe God was speaking through him. Well, dad didn't know;
that's what counts. He didn't "have faith that God is speaking through you"
so mom could justifiably ignore him; like she always did anyway.
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Webers.Home

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#9
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Rom 12:7a . . If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well.

"serving well" implies serving conscientiously and whole-heartedly rather
than half-baked, grudging, and/or hit and miss.

One of my brothers has been a construction foreman for decades and one of
his perpetual complaints is that he never knows from one day to the next
whether some of the men he hires on jobs will show up. In other words:
they aren't reliable, he can't count on them.

What I'm saying is: if you're thinking about becoming helpful in some way,
don't do it unless you're willing to commit to the long haul because people
need to know that they can depend on you to stay the course.
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Webers.Home

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#10
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Rom 12:7b . . If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching.

I had a Sunday school teacher once who worked as a maintenance man in a
public swimming facility. One Saturday he had to work very late repairing
some equipment at the pool and had no time to prepare his lesson plan for
Sunday morning so he just threw something together. It stunk; and my wife
and I got nothing out of it.

In contrast, I once knew a pastor who took all week long to prepare his
Sunday morning sermons rather than put it off till Saturday night. Now there
was a guy who knew what it means to do a good job of teaching; viz: a
conscientious job.

NOTE: I've been on forums where bolding is disabled; which I really
appreciate because it prevents people's posts from getting in your face like
militant activists bellowing, shrieking, and spraying spittle.

Internet forums have given many of Christ's obscure followers a convenient
venue for sharing their time-won knowledge and experience with a
worldwide audience. For the world's sake, I highly recommend making an
effort to compose legible posts; neatly arranged, sensible, and tidy.

Shouting with king-size bold letters, scribbley italics, lack of adequate
paragraphing, twitter spelling, annoying emogies, horrible grammar, and
a confusing mixture of fonts, sizes, and colors, makes for tiresome clutter
and annoying forum graffiti that leave a bad impression.

I rather suspect that some people regard forums as a canvas for painting
their comments instead of composing them. Well; that might be okay for
outsiders, they can be as messy as they want because it doesn't matter. But
for those of us who honestly believe ourselves representing God's son; it's
unacceptable.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of
God." (1Cor 10:31)

One of the meanings of the Greek word for glory is "honor" which in this
case can be defined as doing something out of respect for someone admired
and/or held in high esteem.

"Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." (Phil 1:27)

And finally; we have a right to be heard, but to my knowledge, we do not
have a right to make people listen; so keep that in mind when people ignore
you.
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Webers.Home

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#11
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Rom 12:8a . . If your gift is to encourage others, then do so.

Developing children benefit from encouragement in a big way. Thoughtless
grown-ups can destroy a young child's fragile spirit by criticizing them all the
time and never once giving them an "attaboy" or a single vote of confidence.

A fitting word spoken at just the right moment can really beef up
somebody's resolve to meet life head on. If you're good at that sort of thing,
then watch for opportunities among your fellow Christians to do so. It has to
be honest though because leaving people with a false impression of
themselves is all the same as treachery, and sets them up for
disappointment.

"Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet." (Prov 29:5)
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Webers.Home

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#12
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Rom 12:8b . . If you have money, share it generously.

Generously is quite the opposite of sparingly.

Jesus once compared a widow's contributions to those of the wealthy. The
small amount she gave counted more than the larger amounts contributed
by the wealthy because her donation pretty much cleaned her out; while the
wealthy's contributions scarcely made a dent in their prosperity. (Mark
12:41-44)

I don't think Rom 12:8b is commanding Christ's followers to ruin
themselves, rather, to avoid being miserly.

“Christmas is a poor excuse every 25th of December to pick a man's
pockets.” (Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens)

Ol' Scrooge is known the world over as the king of tightwads. He's an
extreme example, to be sure; most people aren't that grasping, but I think
quite a few are maybe a bit too frugal.
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Webers.Home

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#13
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Rom 12:8c . . If God has given you leadership ability, take the
responsibility seriously.

A natural aptitude for church management doesn't count. It has to be God
given; that is: a legitimate Spirit-endowed ability. (cf. Rom 12:3-8, 1Cor
12:4-11, 1Cor 12:27-30)

There are far too many people sitting on church boards merely because
they're a success in business. Well; if your church is a commercial
enterprise; then maybe you should think about finding another one.

God-given leadership ability is spoken of as a "responsibility". In other
words; it should never be taken as an achievement. I just hate it when City,
State, and Federal government officials celebrate their positions as something
they "won".

"The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me: He that ruleth over
men must be just, ruling in the fear of God." (2Sam 23:3)

Too many of the men and women in power do not rule in the fear of God;
rather, they rule in the fear of politics; and rather than morally upright with
their fellow man's best interests at heart, they are often Machiavellian
instead.
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Webers.Home

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#14
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Rom 12:8d . . If you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it
gladly.

This particular gift relates to sympathy and compassion; which are emotions,
i.e. feelings.

Well; the problem is: we have very little, if any, control over those kinds of
feelings; and I think we too often resent people for triggering them.

"showing kindness" is referred to as a gift. I think most folks, given the
option, would prefer the gift of tongues over the gift of showing kindness
because the one is merely a skill whereas the other makes us sensitive to
need; which at times can be both uncomfortable and inconvenient.
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Webers.Home

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#15
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Rom 12:9a . . Don't just pretend that you love others.

The Greek word translated "love" is derived from agape (ag-ah'-pay) which
refers to affection and/or benevolence; so we have a couple of choices.

I suggest Rom 12:9a forbids not only pretending to like people, but also
pretending to care about them.

I've heard politicians say "I feel your pain" when you know in your heart that
they don't feel anything at all-- zero --it's just bombast.

Webster's defines "pretense" as fiction, make-believe, and/or simulation.
Ironically, pretense is foundational to common courtesy. But when it comes
to love; Christians should never put on a front. In other words: don't lead
someone on to believe you care about them when in reality you don't. That's
not only dishonest and misleading; it's cruel.
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Webers.Home

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#16
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Rom 12:9b . . Hate what is evil.

Hating evil is second nature to God-fearing people; or at least it should be.

"You who love The Lord: hate evil." (Ps 97:10)

"In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was
blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil." (Job 1:1)

"The fear of The Lord is to hate evil. Pride and arrogance and the evil way,
and the perverted mouth, I hate." (Prov 8:13)

I think it's fair to say that when somebody hates the same things that God
hates, and loves the same things that God loves; the two of them have the
makings of a rapport: defined by Webster's as a friendly, harmonious
relationship-- especially a relationship characterized by agreement, mutual
understanding, or empathy that makes communication possible and/or easy.
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Webers.Home

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#17
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Rom 12:9c . . Cling to what is good.

The Greek word translated "cling" speaks of adherence; and it's pretty much
the same meaning as the Hebrew word in Gen 2:24 relative to a man and
his wife.

The word is appropriate in a variety of applications, e.g. join, keep company,
team up, stick to, stick with, bond, unify, become one with, band together,
follow, etc.
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Webers.Home

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#18
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Rom 12:10a . . Love each other with genuine affection

The Greek word translated "love" is derived from Philadelphia (fil-ad-el-fee'
ah) which refers to fraternal feelings; it goes beyond things like courtesy,
kindness, consideration, and charity, etc. Those things exhibit civil love
which is a non affectionate love; in other words: being nice to people
without necessarily liking them.

Rom 12:10a is not an easy command to obey because it requires the
emotions of fondness and affection; loyalty included, i.e. actually liking your
fellow Christians as opposed to only being nice to them.

Real affection is easy to imitate, but not so easy to duplicate. Going through
the motions is just not the same as feeling the feelings.

There are people in this world who, by nature, are affection-challenged.
They can't even feel anything for their own children, let alone other people.
For them, parenting is a nightmare rather than a dream come true. Their
children are a burden rather than a blessing. Children ruin those parents'
lives instead of brightening them up and making their lives more worth the
living.

However, affection-challenged people aren't damaged beyond repair because
Christianity isn't entirely a do-it-yourself religion; it's also a supernatural
religion; viz; part of the plan of salvation is renovation.

"If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who
raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through
His spirit, who lives in you." (Rom 8:11)

"Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed
day by day." (2Cor 4:16)

A heads up to affection-challenged people: Love is inconvenient. It will make
you a better human being, but it will also make you pretty uncomfortable at
times too because love gets into your gut and makes you emotional,
sensitive, compassionate, and sympathetic.
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Webers.Home

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#19
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Rom 12:10b . . Honor others over yourselves.

Christians infected with narcissistic personality disorder will find that rule
difficult, if not impossible, to obey. It's a mental condition characterized by a
grandiose sense of self-importance, a need for excessive admiration,
exploitive behavior in relationships, and a lack of empathy.

Narcissistic people are by nature insufferably arrogant, self-absorbed,
indifferent, and insensitive. They see nothing wrong with their behavior, nor
are they attuned to its impact on others. Were you to confront narcissistic
folk with your concerns about their attitude; be prepared for a counterattack
because they'll no doubt become indignant and defensive; possibly accusing
you of selfishness, jealousy, overreaction, hysteria, and unloving behavior.
You see; they're never the problem: you are.

As I was watching a recent series on the National Geographic channel about
geniuses; it became readily apparent to me that people in the genius
category crave recognition. Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso are two very
good examples. Their contributions to art and science were secondary to
their ambitions for greatness. I wouldn't say that all geniuses are like that of
course, but apparently the desire for greatness is not uncommon among
them.

I should think that most alpha achievers would have trouble complying Rom
12:10b too. I mean. why be a winner if not to feel superior to everyone
else? The alpha achiever's motto is: It's not enough to succeed: everyone
else must fail.

Feelings of value are important to everyone's sense of well being, but the
alpha achiever feels only himself to be of any real value; in his mind's eye,
those "below" him are of little worth, i.e. expendable and/or a dime a dozen.
(cf. Est 6:6, Matt 27:26, Mark 12:38 39, and 3John 1:9)
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Webers.Home

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#20
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Rom 12:11a . . Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit

The Greek word for "slothful" is okneros (ok-nay-ros') which, according to its
use in Matt 25:26-27, indicates failure to honor one's fiduciary
responsibilities.

In other words: when people put their trust in you, in whatever capacity or
circumstance: do not disappoint them, nor (God forbid) make lame excuses
for failing to deliver on your commitments.

"fervent in spirit" sort of means on fire-- i.e. stubborn determination --which
is just the opposite of half-hearted, lukewarm, and/or procrastinating.
_