“Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;”

“Not slothful in business”
 Literally:  “In diligence, not slothful.”  In our vernacular, we might render it as, “Never lacking in zeal.”  Luther translated it as, “In regard to zeal be not lazy.”

          SLOTHFUL:  (Grk.–oknêros)–From the Greek verb (okneô), which means, “to delay, to feel loath, to be slow, to hesitate; irksome.”  Thus, slothful is used to mean, “sluggish; backward; remiss.”  This word refers to those who are slow, idle, destitute of promptness of mind and activity (comp. Matt. 25:26).

God, Who forbade working on the seventh day, by the same authority, has commanded work on the other six days.  He who neglects to labor during the week is as guilty as he is who works on the Sabbath.  Note Paul’s exhortation in II Thess. 3:10:  “if any would not work, neither should he eat.”

        IN BUSINESS:  (Grk.–têi spoudêi)—Literally: “in diligence.”  This is the same word that is rendered  as “diligence”  in verse 8. This word means, “zeal, diligence, purpose”; denoting the energy of action.

It properly denotes haste intensity, or ardor of mind; and hence it also denotes industry or labor. This  means that we should be diligently occupied in our proper employment. It does not refer to any particular occupation but is used, in a general sense, to denote all the labor which we may need to do; or is a direction to be faithful and industrious in the discharge of all our appropriate duties. The tendency of the Christian faith is to promote industriousness.

“fervent in spirit”
Literally:  “In spirit burning.” Or aglow with the Spirit suggests that our zeal and    enthusiasm should be under the control of the Holy Spirit

Do nothing at any time but what is to the glory of God, and do everything as unto Him; and in everything let your hearts be engaged.  Always be in earnest, and let your heart always accompany your hand. Be zealous, enthusiastic, not indifferent.

          FERVENT: (Grk.–zeontes)—“Burning”–This word is usually applied to water, or to metals so heated as to bubble, or boil. It hence is used to denote ardor, intensity, or, as we express it, aglow-meaning intense zeal, (Acts 18:25).

           IN SPIRIT: (Grk.–tôi pneumati)In your mind or heart. The expression is used to denote a mind filled with intense ardor or enthusiasm in whatever it is engaged. It is supposed that Christians would first find appropriate objects for their labor, and then engage in them with intense zeal.

“serving the Lord”–Ever considering that His eye is upon you, and that you are accountable to Him for all that you do, and that you should do everything so as to please Him.  In order to accomplish this there must be simplicity in the INTENTION, and purity in the AFFECTIONS.

Regard yourselves as the servants (literally:  “slaves) of the Lord.  This direction is to be understood as connected with the preceding verse, and as growing out of it. They were to be diligent and fervent, and in doing so were to regard themselves as serving the Lord, or to do it in obedience to the command of God and to promote His glory.
1.      The tendency of worldly employments is to take off the affections from
2.      Men are prone to forget God when deeply engaged in their worldly employments.  It is correct to recall their attention to Him.

3.      The right discharge of our duties in the various employments of life is to be regarded as serving God.          
4.      God has required that all such employment should be conducted with reference to His will and to His honor,(I Cor. 10:31; Eph. 6:5; Col. 3:17, 22-24; I Pet. 4:11).
The meaning of this whole verse is that Christians should be industrious, ardently engaged in some lawful employment, and that they should pursue it with reference to the will of
God, in obedience to His commands, and to His glory.

“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.”

         “Rejoicing in hope”
         Literally::  “In hope, rejoicing.”–In hope that the glory of
God shall shortly be revealed to each faithful follower of Christ

                 HOPE:  (Grk.–elpizô)–Literally:  “hope for; hope in; expect.”

         That is, in the hope of eternal life and glory which the Gospel produces (see notes on 5:2). In hope of that glory of God that to each faithful follower of Christ shall shortly be revealed. Hopeful, and therefore rejoicing in that prospect.  This should be the purpose of every believer.  The circumstances of the believer may not warrant rejoicing.  In fact, the very opposite may be true; but he sees the future, and in the open projects himself into other circumstances which are more favorable.
         Here it is more lively to retain the order and the verbs of the original: “In hope, rejoicing; in tribulation, enduring; in prayer, persevering. Each of these exercises helps the other.  Paul next directs the converted Romans how they should manage themselves under afflictions; namely, to endure them patiently, to rejoice in hope of present deliverance, or future happiness; and, in order for both, to be much in the duty of prayer.

         “patient in tribulation”
         Literally:  “In affliction, enduring.”  In tribulation, patiently enduring all that may be appointed.

Christians may be enabled to do this by the sustaining influence of their hope of future glory; of being admitted to that world where there shall be no more death, and where all tears shall be wiped away from their eyes, (Rev. 21:4; 7:17). Comp. James 1:4. See the influence of hope in sustaining us in affliction more fully considered in the Notes on 8:18-28.

             TRIBULATION:  (Grk.–thlipsis)–Literally:  “affliction, trouble, distress, suffering”.

Remembering that what you suffer as Christians you suffer for Christ's sake; and it is to His honor, and the honor of your Christian profession, that you suffer it with an even mind. Patient in sorrow, suffering and persecution. Patience implies steadfastness. Since our “hope” of glory is so assured that it is a rejoicing hope, we shall find the spirit of “endurance in tribulation” natural and easy; but since it is “prayer,” which strengthens the faith that gives hope and lifts it up into an assured and joyful expectancy, and since our patience in tribulation is fed by this, it will be seen that all depends on our “perseverance in prayer.”

         “continuing instant in prayer”
         Literally:  “In prayer, steadfastly continuing.”  That is, steadfastly persevering; that is, to give constant attention to a thing, to be devoted or constant to one. 

         Making the most fervent and intense application to the Throne of Grace for the light and power of the Holy Spirit; without which you can neither abhor evil, do good, love the brethren, entertain a comfortable hope, nor bear up patiently under the tribulations and ills of life. That is, be persevering in prayer. (See Col. 4:2). 
        The meaning of this direction is that in order to rightly discharge the duties of the Christian life, and especially to maintain a joyful hope and be sustained in the midst of afflictions, it is necessary to cherish a spirit of prayer, and to live near to God.  How often a Christian should pray, the Scriptures do not inform us .  We are told that David prayed seven times a day, (Psa. 119:164) and that Daniel was accustomed to pray three times a day, (Daniel 6:10).   Regarding our Savior, we have several instances of His praying mentioned; and the same of the apostles, The following rules, perhaps, may guide us in this:
1.      Every Christian should have some time allotted for this service, and some place where he may be alone with God.
2.      It is not easy, perhaps even impossible, to maintain a life of faithfulness without regular habits of secret devotion.
3.      The morning, when we have experienced God's protecting care, when the mind is fresh, and the thoughts are as yet clear and unoccupied with the world, when we go forth to the duties, trials, and temptations of the day; and the evening, when we have again experienced His goodness, and are about to commit ourselves to His protecting care, and when we need His pardoning mercy for the errors and follies of the day, seem to be times which commend themselves to all as appropriate seasons for private devotion.
4.      Every person will also find other times when private prayer will be needful, and when he will be inclined to it. In affliction, in perplexity, in moments of despondency, in danger, and want, in disappointment, and in the loss of friends or loved ones, we shall feel the propriety of drawing near to God, and of pouring out the heart before Him
5.      Besides this, every Christian is probably conscious of times when he feels peculiarly inclined to pray.
6.      Christians may be in the habit of praying to God without the formality of retirement. God looks upon the heart; and the heart may pour forth its secret desires to Him even when at work, when conversing with a friend, when walking, when alone, and when in society. Thus the Christian may live a life of prayer; and it shall be one of the characteristics of his life that he prays! By this he shall be known; and in this he shall learn the way to possess peace in his

“In every joy that crowns my days, In every pain I bear, My heart shall find delight in praise, Or seek relief in prayer.
“When gladness wings my favor'd hour, Thy love my thoughts shall fill; Resigned when storms of sorrow lower, My soul shall meet Thy will.

“My lifted eye, without a tear, The gathering storm shall see; My steadfast heart shall know no fear: That heart shall rest on thee.”

“Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

“Distributing to the necessity of saints”
Literally:  “Imparting to the needs of the saints–The next duty exhorted to is that of charity and alms-giving to the poor members of Jesus Christ, especially when under persecution; that is, showing hospitality towards them, and giving entertainment to them, when they seek it of us. Making the needs of fellow saints your own and helping them.

DISTRIBUTING:  (Grk.–koinonountes)—This denotes “having things in common.”  It means sharing in the necessities; taking part in them as one’s own.

          Paul is telling these Roman believers hat they should be communicative, or should regard their property as so far common as to supply the wants of others. In the earliest times of the church, Christians had all things in common.  One of the most striking effects of Christianity was to loosen their grasp on property, and dispose them to impart liberally to those who had need. The direction here does not mean that they should  literally have all things in common; but that they should  share of their good things with those who were needy. (Comp. 15:27; Gal. 6:6; Phil. 4:15; I Tim. 6:18).
          Relieve your poor brethren according to the power which God has given you. Do good to all men, but especially to them which are of the household of faith. Making the needs of fellow saints your own and helping them.  That is, distribute to them such things as they need–food, raiment, etc. This command, of course, has reference to the poor.

         “given to hospitality.”
         Literally:  “Pursuing hospitality”–Accustomed to provide for needy travelers and strangers, especially such as are laboring or suffering for
Christ. This duty was especially needful in those early days when Christians were so often driven from their homes by persecution.

          GIVEN: (Grk.-diôkontes)—Literally: “Pursuing”—(present-perfect tense), which denotes continuous  actionFrom the Greek verb diôkô–to pursue, to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavor to acquire.”  Pursuing hospitality, or the duty of entertaining strangers.

          A very necessary virtue in ancient times, when houses of public accommodation were exceedingly scarce.  Remember, there were no motels back then. This exhortation might have for its object the apostles, who were all itinerants; and or in many case, fellow Christians who were fleeing from persecution.  But providing for strangers in distress is the proper meaning of the term; and to be forward to do this is the spirit of the duty.
         They should readily and cheerfully entertain strangers. This is a duty which is frequently enjoined in the Scriptures. (Heb.) 13:2, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”  (I Pet. 4:9), “Use hospitality one to another without grudging” Paul makes this especially the duty of a Christian bishop, or more correctly,  overseer: (I Tim. 3:2), “A bishop then must…be given to hospitality.” This duty was especially needful in those early days when Christians were so often driven from their homes by persecution.

          HOSPITALITY: (Grk.–philoxenia)—literally: “love of strangers.” This verb indicates not only that hospitality is to be furnished when sought, but that Christians are to seek opportunities for exercising hospitality.  We are to seek out other believers to whom we can extend hospitality.

This was really a necessary exhortation for Paul to make when so many Christians were banished and persecuted.  There may be a person in your neighborhood, or even in your church, who is introverted and retiring yet they long for Christian fellowship.  We are to seek out these and extend our fellowship to them.

Hospitality is especially directed by Christ, and the exercise of it is commanded by Him: (Matt. 10:40, 42), “He that receiveth you receiveth Me,”  etc. The need of hospitality is one of the charges which the Judge of mankind will allege against the wicked, and on which He will condemn them: (Matt. 25:43), “I was a stranger, and ye took me not in.”

“Bless them which persecute you, bless and curse not.”

“Bless them which persecute you”
Literally:  “Bless the {ones} persecuting you.”  Jesus did this on the cross (Luke 23:3), so also did the martyred Stephen (Acts 7:60).  The man who can obey this precept is a trans-formed man.

          BLESS:  (Grk.–eulogeô), from (Grk.–legô), “to speak” and (Grk.–eu), “well;” so  it means, “to speak well of” of a person, to eulogize him.  Our English word “eulogize is from of this  Greek word.  Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines this word as:  “to bless one; to praise, celebrate with praises.”

Give good words, or pray for them that give you bad words;  who make dire insults or curses against you.  Bless them, pray for them, and on NO account are you to curse them, whatever the provocation may be. Have the loving, forgiving mind that was in your Lord.

“Bless, and curse not.”
Literally: “Bless, and do not curse.”–Bless or continue to bless, however long or aggravating may be the injury.  The construction in the
Greek text forbids the continuance of an action already going on; i.e, stop cursing.”  Do not be provoked to anger, or to cursing, by any injury, persecution, or reviling.

          CURSE NOT: he (Grk.– katarasthe)—The  word “curse” does not here have the  usual present day meaning of profanity as it does now,  but here it means, calling down divine curses upon some person. To curse really means, “to devote to destruction”.  Where there is power to do it, it implies the destruction of the object.

“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”

The next duty required is Christian sympathy and mutual affection between the brethren, both in prosperity and in adversity, to rejoice in the one, and to mourn together in the other, as being members of the same Body.  Paul is teaching us that it is a Christian's duty to rejoice in those good things, whether inward or outward, which befall the brethren; and also to mourn and lay to heart all those afflictions and sorrows which come upon them

“Rejoice with them that do rejoice”
Literally:  “Rejoice with rejoicing {ones}.” —This command grows out of the doctrine stated in verses 4-5; that the church is one; that it has one interest; and therefore that there should    be common sympathy in its joys and sorrows.

Or, enter into the welfare of your fellow Christians, and show your attachment to them by rejoicing that they are made happy. (Comp. I Cor. 12:26). “And whether… one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.”  In this way happiness diffuses and multiplies itself. It becomes expanded over the face of the whole society; and the union of the Christian Body tends to enlarge the sphere of happiness, and to prolong the joy conferred by religion. God has bound the family of man together by these sympathies, and it is one of the happiest of all devices to perpetuate and extend human enjoyments. Take a lively interest in the prosperity of others.  Let it be a matter of rejoicing to you when you hear of the health, prosperity, or happiness of any brother. 

         “weep with them that weep”
         Literally:  “Weep with the weeping {ones}.” —At the grave of Lazarus,  
Jesus showed this in a most tender and affecting manner.

The purpose of this direction is to produce mutual kindness and affection, and to divide our sorrows by the sympathies of friends.  Nothing is so well fitted to do this as the sympathy of those we love. All who are afflicted know how much it diminishes theft sorrow to see others sympathizing with them, and especially those who evince in theft sympathies the Christian spirit, How sad would be a suffering world if there were none who regarded our grieves with interest or with tears; if every sufferer were left to bear his sorrows unpitied and alone; or if all the ties of human sympathy were rudely cut at once and men were left to suffer in solitude, and unbefriended!  It may be added, that it is the special duty of Christians to sympathize in each other's grieving;
1.     Because their Savior set them the example;
2.     Because they belong to the same family;
3.     Because they are subject to similar trials and afflictions; and
4.     Because they cannot expect the sympathy of a cold and unfeeling world

          Display  a deep interest, a tender sympathy in the joys and sorrows of others.  Labor after a compassionate or sympathizing mind.  Let your own heart feel for the distressed; enter into their sorrows, and bear a part of their burdens.  It is a fact, attested by universal experience, that by sympathy a man may receive into his own affectionate feelings a measure of the distress of his friend, and that his friend does find himself relieved in the same proportion as the other has entered into his griefs.
          What a beautiful spirit of sympathy with the joys and sorrows of others is taught here!  But it is only one charming phase of the unselfish character which belongs to all living Christianity. What a world will ours be when this shall become its reigning spirit! Of the two, however, it is more easy to sympathize with another's sorrows than his joys, because in the one case he needs us; in the other he does not.  But just for this reason the latter is the more disinterested, and so the nobler.
          But, Lord! how far are they from this duty who, instead of mourning for the sufferings of others, are glad at calamity, rejoice at the downfall of others!  O Lord, help us to lay the troubles of others to heart, when we ourselves are freest and farthest from trouble: let us  weep with them that weep, and rejoice with, etc.  The Gospel acquaints us with the pity of God towards us, and presses us to pity one another.