Energetic and enthusiastic service should characterize believers in Jesus. Sometimes I find this a discouraging requirement, especially as I have gotten old, and energy is a scarce commodity! But zeal (i.e., enthusiasm, “spiritual fervor”) can show itself in ways that do not require that we all be 18-year-olds! There are some Christians whose very presence I find uplifting. I’m sure they have their share of troubles and reasons to worry and fret. But somehow they find inner resources by which to maintain a positive outlook. I need to be less negative about the whole experience of living. We all have our hardships. But when we go around with long faces, we are not helping our brothers and sisters in Christ to handle their own burdens. There is already more than enough hardship in life without my adding more to a friend by my gloomy and pessimistic attitude.
Verse 12 gives us two important resources to fuel our flagging enthusiasm and zeal: they are hope and prayer. ‘Hope” in the language of the Bible never means wishful thinking, but rather a sure prospect—not just the action of hoping, but the thing hoped for. We know that in the end God will triumph over evil, and we as members of the body of Christ will participate in that final glorious and eternal celebration. Specifically, the nature of our hope is in the promises of God in the scripture. Paul could say to those who brought charges against him, that he did what he did because of the hope given in the ancient prophets: