Are You Zealous?
By Pastor J.D. Link
Galatians 4:16-18 says “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them. But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.” The word zealous means: to have warmth or feeling for or against. To covet earnestly; to have an ardent desire for; to be moved with envy; to be jealous over. As Christians, we should be zealous for God and His Word. We should have an ardent desire for the things of God. However, as the above versus show us, it’s not enough just to have zeal; it must be zeal in a “good thing”. From Scripture, we know a truly good thing is a God thing (Mk 10:18).
Being zealous does not necessarily mean being right. Some people think because a person is zealous in good works, that somehow that equals salvation. It does not (Eph 2:8-9, Titus 3:5). Now, as Christians, we should be zealous for good works (Titus 2:14) – but those works stem from being saved, and not as justification for salvation. There are Muslims who are so zealous that they drive trucks through crowds of people and blow themselves up on crowded buses, but this is obviously evil. The apostle Paul was so zealous before he was saved, that he persecuted the Church of God (Gal 1:14, Php 3:6) – but he was wrong (Rom 10:1-4). Hitler was very zealous in what he believed, as have been many tyrants throughout history. Yet, once again, you can be very zealous and very wrong.
So, is it then wrong to be zealous? Certainly not. We should be always zealous in a good thing. A couple of good examples from the Old Testament are Phinehas (Num 25) and Jehu (2Kin 10:16). Phinehas was the son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the high priest. He had such a zeal for God, that when one of the princes of Israel took a pagan woman into his tent right in front of Moses, he thrust them through with a spear. Praise God Jesus has died for our sins, and Godly justice is not served in this way anymore by an individual. However, the point we can glean from this story, is that God blessed him and his descendants because of his great zeal for God. Jehu was a righteous king that went through the land, cleansing it of all the abominable practices allowed and promoted by the evil king Ahab and his wretched wife, Jezebel. Jehu said, “Come see my zeal for the Lord”. Could we say the same? Zeal is like faith – it is expressed in actions.
In the New Testament, Paul recognizes and commends the zeal of the Corinthian church in their desire for spiritual things (1Cor 14:12), in their giving unto the work of The Lord (2Cor 9:2), and in their dealing with sin issues Paul addressed the first time he spoke to them (2Cor 7:10-11). Paul also mentions the zeal that Epaphras had toward the Colossian church and others (Col 4:12-13). Godly zeal is commendable and good.
In Revelation 3:19, Jesus told the church to repent and be zealous because they were lukewarm, and this made Jesus want to spew them out of His mouth. As we see in both Old and New Testaments, God wants us to be zealous for Him and His Word. Notice Jesus tells them to “be zealous”. Many times we make excuses for our lukewarmness towards God. We say, “I can’t help it. I just don’t feel zealous. It’s not my fault. God, make me zealous.” God won’t make you zealous, although He has given you plenty to be zealous about. If Jesus said to repent and be zealous, then that is something you have control over. Society just wants to say everything is a “disease”, and throws some pills at it. Don’t buy into that line bull. We must take responsibility for our own actions and feelings, and quit blaming everyone and everything else for our lack of discipline.
Jesus showed us Godly zeal in John 2:15-17. The zeal for God’s house “Ate Him up” (devoured Him). We need to be devoured with a zeal for The Lord. We must put all lukewarmness away from us, and meditate on the cross, on God’s Word, and on our relationship with Jesus. It’s funny: the world calls a face-painting, cheese hat wearing, four hr., 10 degree weather sitting person a “big fan” (positive). Yet, if you’re a passionate Christian, you’re a “zealous fanatic” (negative). It’s always good to be zealous in a God thing, so be zealous. Until next time, rejoice in The Lord!