“not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;” (Romans 12:11, NASB95)
There is an old expression, “You snooze, you lose.” The expression refers to one who might wait too long to take action on an opportunity and in doing so, miss it. We see this in business often, when there are certain windows of opportunity to bid on contracts. If you get started too late on putting the bid package together and miss the deadline, you miss the opportunity. “You snooze, you lose.”
Yet, this often happens in ministry also. We should constantly be praying for the Lord to open doors for ministry opportunity, such as witnessing, preaching, and a host of others. However, when the Lord opens the door, we often hesitate to go through it and by the time we make up our minds, the door is already closed. The problem, we were snoozing. This seems to be what Paul is speaking of here when he wrote, “not lagging behind in diligence.”
It is interesting that there are so many different translations of this particular verse. The KJV translates it, “Not slothful in business.” The ESV has it, “Do not be slothful in zeal.” The HCSB states, “Do not lack diligence.” The word translated, “lagging behind,” “slothful,” and “lack” in the various translations is okneros, which means shrinking from or hesitating to engage in something. Strong’s indicates it refers to being slothful or sluggish, coming from a verb meaning to be slow or to delay. The word translated, “diligence,” “business,” and “zeal” is spoude, refers to eagerness to do something, haste, earnestness, or diligence.
It appears that the point Paul is making with this statement is, do not delay in getting to the work of ministry. This is qualified by the succeeding statements, “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” Then comes a few examples. Paul states, “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing constant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.” (Romans 12:12–13, KJV 1900)
This exhortation applies to every believer in Jesus Christ. The window for us to minister for the glory of God is very short. It is our lifetime. James calls it a mist or vapor that quickly vanishes (James 4:14). In comparison to eternity, our lives are so short. We need to make the most of every opportunity for the days are short (Eph 5:16). Don’t snooze and lose. With a sense of urgency make the most of the opportunity you have today.