Zeal is a word seldom used in today’s vocabulary, and yet, it is an essential quality of the Christian life.
Zeal is strength of focus. It is about priority and effort in pursuing God’s cause. Spiritual zeal is a passion and concentration on pleasing God. It keeps faith’s tire inflated and moving forward with efficiency. Lose it and life becomes flat and of minimal use.
For a follower of Jesus, zeal for God’s glory and cause is something that must be maintained regardless of age or conditions. David said, “the zeal for your house consumes me.” (Psalm 69:9) God’s purpose is for you to experience his daily renewal and empowering presence to keep you in the game! Nowhere in scripture do we see this divine renewing process diminishing. Nor do we see any suggestion that our stance should be one of merely “holding on” just to get by! Quite the opposite. “Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired.” (Isaiah 40:31 CEV)
One Sunday afternoon I was on duty to care for our two young boys. My wife was away at a women’s conference. After attending church and a trip to McDonald’s, I thought it would be good to take them to the large Catholic church in our town. It stood high on a hill right in the middle of our community. We entered the church to an eerie silence and made our way slowly toward the platform area. Not a soul was present, so we proceeded to an area where the priest made his final preparations for mass. On the wall was a prayer that has stuck with me to this day. It read: “Priest of God. Say this mass as though it were your first mass; your last mass; your only mass.” Amen.
To me, that prayer spoke of the freshness, zeal and urgency that should characterize our life. In our noisy, fast-paced and distracting world, we must guard against the erosion of these traits.
In the second half of the 19th century, Charles H. Sturgeon identified J.C. Ryle as “the best man in the Church of England.” An amazing commendation from a spiritual giant. J.C. Ryle makes these observations on zeal.
“Zeal in religion is a burning desire to please God, to do his will, and to advance his glory in the world in every possible way. A zealous man in religion is pre-eminently a man of one thing …he only sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing; and that one thing is to please God …He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn; and if consumed in burning, he has but done the work for which God appointed him. Such a one will always find a sphere for his zeal.”
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11 NIV)
Be blessed my friend.
The Barnabas Group / Loads of Love