ZealBy Pastor Boffey on Sunday, May 10, 2009.
ZEAL Zeal: “In Biblical language....denoting ardent feeling or fervour (taking the form of love, wrath, jealousy or righteous indignation), with contextual tendency to unfavourable implications (emulation, rivalry, partisanship). Intense ardour in the pursuit of some end; passionate eagerness in favour of a person or cause; enthusiasm as displayed in action.” I. From time to time, believers need to be encouraged in their devotion to God. It is all too easy to allow the fires of initial conversion to burn out and to fall into a cool monochrome Christianity without real substance. MAL 1:13 c/w REV 2:4. A. The regenerative work of God's grace was designed to not only save His children from death, but also animate them in godly duty. EPH 2:10; TIT 2:14. B. True religion which evidences inward grace is not characterized by a half-hearted service to God. REV 3:15-19. 1. God goes so far as to challenge people to forsake Him entirely rather than serve Him with divided allegiances. EZE 20:39; 1KI 18:21; JOS 24:15, 20. 2. Divided allegiances make for unstable people who are a discouragement of the fervency of others. JAM 1:8 c/w 1CH 12:33; DEU 20:8. 3. Contrarily, the forwardness and zeal of dedicated believers is a good incentive for those whose zeal is at a low ebb. 2CO 9:2; 1TI 4:12. C. The scriptures were given for our learning, patience and comfort. ROM 15:4. 1. Comfort: “To strengthen (morally or spiritually); to encourage, hearten, inspirit, incite.” 2. Reflect upon the zeal of these individuals and be encouraged: a. Levites. EXO 32:26; DEU 33:9; MAL 2:4-5. b. Phinehas. NUM 25:11-13 c/w PSA 106:30-31. c. Jehu. 2KI 9:20, 24, 27, 30-35; 10:6-8, 12-14, 16-28. d. The Psalmist. PSA 119:10, 20. e. Eleazar, son of Dodo the Ahohite. 2SA 23:10. f. David's mighty men. 2SA 23:14-17. g. David. PSA 132:3-5. h. Josiah. 2KI 23:25. i. Paul. ACT 20:20-24; PHIL 1:20; 2TI 4:7. j. Jesus Christ. JOH 2:15-17; 4:34; HEB 12:3. II. Our zeal is to be first of all towards God, His righteousness, truth and justice (MAT 6:32; MAR 12:28-30), and then towards men. MAR 12:31. A. We are to earnestly contend for the faith. JUDE 1:3. 1. Earnest: “Of persons: Serious, as opposed to trifling; usually in emphatic sense, intensely serious, gravely impassioned, in any purpose, feeling, conviction, or action; sincerely zealous. Of feelings, convictions, etc.: Intense, ardent. Of actions or words: Proceeding from or implying intensity of feeling or conviction.” 2. Ardent: “Burning, on fire, red-hot; fiery, hot, parching.” 3. Consider the burning zeal of some godly men. JOB 32:18-20; PSA 39:3; JER 20:9; EZE 3:14; ACT 17:16; 18:5. B. The disregard of the law of God and the hardness of sinners ought to be a grief to a zealous believer. JER 23:9; EZE 9:4; MAR 3:5. 1. Zeal should be characterized by a strong righteous indignation against sin. PSA 119:53, 136, 139, 158. a. Like piety (1TI 5:4), this begins “at home.” MAT 7:1-5. b. In correcting others, we should first consider ourselves. ROM 2:21. 2. Flagrant, defiant sin may justify zealously angry reactions. EXO 32:19; EZR 9:1-3; NEH 13:25; JOH 2:15-17. a. Anger is not in and of itself sin. MAR 3:5. b. Anger without a cause is sin. MAT 5:22; PSA 106:32-33 c/w 1CO 13:5. c. Hasty anger is sin. ECC 7:9; JAM 1:19. d. Unstopped anger is sin. EPH 4:26. 3. Be cautious to not let your zeal against sin drive you to self-destructive fretting. PSA 37:1-9; ECC 5:8 c/w PHIL 4:6-7. C. When sin demands judgment, our zeal for God must overrule our feelings. 2CO 7:11; 12:20-13:2. IV. Zeal alone is not necessarily good. Misdirected zeal is the source of great error. Observe: A. King Saul. 2SAM 21:2. B. Joab and Abishai. 2SAM 3:39; 16:10; 19:22. C. Unconverted Jews. ROM 10:2. D. Misguided disciples. LUK 9:54. E. Saul of Tarsus. GAL 1:13-14; PHIL 3:6. F. The Galatian churches. GAL 4:17-18. V. God's word directs us to various things for which we should be zealous. A. We should be zealous for God's house. PSA 26:8; 27:4; 84:10; JOH 2:17. B. We should be zealous for God's word. PSA 119:128 c/w JER 9:3. C. We should be zealous in prayer. JAM 5:16-18. D. We should be zealous for witness and the salvation of others. ROM 10:1; 1PE 3:15. 1. The seemingly futile efforts of witnessing are not wasted. ECC 11:1. 2. Let us not therefore be weary in well doing. GAL 6:9. E. We should be zealous for the well-being of each other. COL 4:12-13. VI. It behooves Christians to examine their lives carefully when zeal starts to fade and purge those concerns which cause that (and they are many!). A. If creature comforts, worldly associations and affiliations, or sin are conflicting with the heart's devotion to God, they should be scaled back or eliminated. B. A better end-product will result. 1CO 3:12-15 c/w PRO 25:4.