Garry continued looking at Rom 12:9-21 this morning, focussing initially on Rom 12:10 which tells us to be devoted to each other in love. This kind of ‘brotherly love‘ (made up of two Greek words for love, philia & storge) involves the affection and love a person has for family members and a mutual regard and love which values others.
To be devoted means to be given over to God, to be utterly single-minded in our pursuit of Him. Since we have been adopted into the same family and are now children of God, we belong together and should share with each other (see Gal 6:9-10). This involves honouring each other, giving preference to each other out of the love we have for each other. (Rom 12:10) We are all different (as Paul has outlined earlier in the chapter, Rom 12:4-7), but need to learn to accept and appreciate each other, despite the differences!
In addition to this, Paul calls us never to be lacking in zeal, but to keep our spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. (Rom 12:11) The word ‘zeal’ could be translated ‘diligence‘, and Garry spoke of the nib-makers in Birmingham who revolutionised literacy in the whole world in previous centuries.
In moving from quills to nibs, writing became easier, but was still only available to the rich, for one pen nib cost one guinea, roughly a month’s salary. As manufacturing made pen nibs cheaper to produce, 144 pen nibs could be produced for the same price, and each person working in a factory on a ten-hour shift was expected to make 18,000 pen nibs a day. To do this – a rate of one nib every two seconds – required concentration, diligence, and perseverance. God expects no less from each one of us, as Col 4:5-6 reminds us. We are to make the most of every opportunity, not missing a trick, as the Message version puts it.
God calls each one of us to serve Him with fervour and zeal, something we can only do if we don’t lose our focus and work consistently for His glory. The challenge is for each one of us to be a nib-maker to the King – to be someone who will persevere in the calling of God, no matter how boring or monotonous the tasks may seem, for we have an eternal perspective that gives meaning to the mundane.