Romans 12:11 – Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Zeal. It’s a funny sounding word. It is well worth looking at the etymology of this one little word. It makes me smile just to say the word. Zeal mean to have a passion towards something or in pursuit of an objective or course of action. It actually is another old church word. We might say that someone is zealous but we rarely say the root word zeal. The word zeal or zealous actually appears over 36 times in the Bible. In history, it has been used to describe “a noble passion” or a “jealousy” that drives someone to do something recklessly. In church, it means a driving devotion or desire.
Such a funny little word that has such big meaning and color. I like it.
In Jesus’ day there were a group of people called the Zealots. One of Jesus’ disciples was called, “Simon the Zealot”. It is believed that Judas Iscariot might have been a Zealot because Iscariot means “red” and refers to the extremely radical group of Zealots know as the sicarii or “dagger men”. Some say that it was his political agenda that made him betray Christ in order to force Jesus into taking a fighting position against the Romans and those Jews who supported the Romans. I still believe that it was “pure T” greed and the work of Satan that led him to betray Jesus.
The Zealots were originally a political movement founded by Judas of Gamala and Zadok the Pharisee in the year 6BC against Quirinius’ tax reform. The formation took place shortly after the Roman Empire declared Judea to be a Roman province. The term “zealot”means one who is zealous on behalf of God. The term derives from Greek word “zelotes” which means “emulator, zealous admirer or follower”. The Zealots were considered by some to be a “fourth sect” along with the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Essenes. They sought to incite the Jews to rebel against the Roman Empire and expel it by force. They most notably were active during the Great Jewish Revolt in 66-70AD. Their terrorist-like tactics finally lead to the Roman assault and destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70AD and the seize against Masada in 73AD which lead to the mass suicide of all the Jews inside.
To this day, Masada is used as a place where Israeli soldiers take their oath of service. It is a symbol of their zeal and a call to die in defense of the land which God had given to them.
Zeal. I still have to smile.
Wouldn’t it be nice in our weight loss journey to be zealous in the things we put into our mouths. Wouldn’t it be great to be excited and zealous towards our exercise routine. Most of us cringe when we hear the “E-word”. We don’t want to do it… we have to do it. In fact, we get really irritated with those aerobic instructors or dieticians who are zealous. They make it sound so easy. But we need a zeal for it.
At my Weight Watchers meeting a few weeks back the leader said, “If you sorta follow the plan you will sorta get results. But if you completely follow the plan you will get complete results.” I was convicted to follow the plan a little more zealously.
Zeal. Are you smiling yet?
What if we applied some of that zeal to following Jesus. Not following him because we have to follow him. Not just being excited about it on Sunday and muddling through the rest of the week. But what if we emulated him, zealously follow him, desire him more than anything else in our lives? What kind of blessings would flow from the throne of God if we added a bit of zeal to the recipe for life?
Dear God, You are trustworthy and true. You have never lead me astray. Help me to add some zeal to my life. Help me to zealously follow you. I am excited and anticipate the next step in our journey together. Lead me on, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
“Zeal is a volcano, the peak of which the grass of indecisiveness does not grow.”
-Khalil Gibran (Don’t agree with his teachings but I like this quote – Loren)
“Experience shows that success is due less to ability than to zeal.”