Zeal-Love Ablaze

Zeal – Love Ablaze

Have you ever been enthusiastic to do something for God, not because you felt there was anything in it for you, but simply because you love Him? If so, that is an example of zeal. Here is another example:

John 2:13-17 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

If you wanted to announce your ministry, would you go into a megachurch and start turning over tables and driving people away? Jesus was doing more than getting attention or showing His authority. He was not angry. None of the Gospel accounts say Jesus was angry. The reason for this one-man attack on the sacrilege and defilement of the house of God is summed up in these words: "Zeal for your house will consume me."

Zeal is not anger. It is love ablaze. Zeal without love becomes fanaticism. Jesus was not a fanatic. Jesus’ love for the Father and for us was blind to all the possible dangers of His mission. We could describe it as a “mamma bear” kind of love. This love ignores personal safety, disregards the odds against it, drops "sacrifice" from its vocabulary, ignores all danger, is intolerant of sin, but it is not fanatical. It is love ablaze!

We are so afraid of being called a fanatic that we don’t show any enthusiasm for Christ. We don’t know the meaning of fanatic, but I can tell you how you subconsciously define a fanatic. A fanatic is anyone who loves Jesus more than you!

Today, the worldly “wise” have swept aside the Bible. They tell us that we can move into a new freedom for mankind, but it is a lie. Instead of freedom, people have become enslaved to sin and addicts to their passions.

As a result, our society is dominated by broken marriages, leaving millions of broken children. Millions of minds are broken with drugs. The people's confidence and trust in the government is broken. Society is broken, causing gender confusion and no clarity about what is right or wrong. All is broken except our hearts.

We need broken, contrite hearts over sin and a zeal for God to clean up this colossal mess. The present apathy in the Church is almost unpardonable. However, the Jehovah's Witnesses have zeal. The Mormons have zeal. The Muslims have zeal. Furthermore, the Socialists have zeal. The homosexuals have zeal. And the atheists zealously persist in dominating the media. As a result, their agendas are dominating society and infiltrating the Church.

It is not enough in these days for us to say that we are conservative or fundamental. We must have a love that is ablaze with a Holy Spirit-born zeal. But first, we need Jesus to turn over the tables of sin in our own lives. We must repent of our apathy and self-concern.

The Church today is infected with disobedience by a watered-down gospel, by evolution, feminism, socialism, homosexuality, entertainment, bingo and bake sales, tinsel and trivia. Today’s Church does not make disciples of Jesus nor teach them to observe what He commanded. It is more concerned with nickels, noses, and numbers.

Money often determines who is considered the most zealous in the Church today. Much of the Church ignores Matthew 23:11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. In many churches, if there is a man in the assembly with great wealth, he is welcomed as a member of the church board, regardless of His zeal for God. That way his large tithe can be guaranteed.

As a result, unbelievers have more respect for Muslims and atheists because they have more zeal and enthusiasm for what they believe. Their impression of Christians comes from preachers begging for money over the radio and television to sustain their extravagant lifestyle, costly airplanes, and luxury homes. They not only want your money while you live, they ask for your house and estate after you die!

Yes, we need a baptism of holy zeal like Jesus, because the money-changers are back in the temple! The Church that began in the Spirit is now operating in the flesh. The world now influences the Church more than the Church influences the world.

So, how can we get out of this mess? How can we develop a zeal for God? The first step is to confess our lack of love for God, repent, and diligently obey His Word. Then we can take some positive steps forward to develop a zeal like Christ’s.

For example: 2 Peter 1:5-8 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To walk in Christ’s holiness and maintain our zeal, we have to realize there are things in our lives Jesus wants to drive out, so that He can supplement our faith with these things above, and with the fruit and the fire of the Holy Spirit. For example, when Jesus ran the moneychangers out of the temple, He was ridding the Church of a certain coldness and consumerism that had overtaken people’s passion for God.

Under the new Covenant, we are God’s temple on earth. Our bodies, not a building, are the dwelling place of His Holy Spirit. Our bodies are to be a “house of prayer”. And there are certain things that don’t belong in His temple, things that can overtake our enthusiasm for Him and cause us to grow cold, apathetic, and worldly.

That scene in the temple offers an analogy for our time. A lot of congregations today are filled with noise and activity. They have many programs in place, from overseas mission trips to local outreaches, to dozens of small fellowship groups. The worship services can be full of bright lights, powerful sound, and amazing energy. All this can be good, yet sometimes, amid all this lively activity, something critical is missing: Jesus!

If we are not careful, we can drift away from Christ by focusing on activity instead of Christ and become at risk of Jesus saying, “I never knew you; depart from me you workers of lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:23)

Hebrews 2:1 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.

Dr. Richard Moore says, “When ministry becomes performance, then the sanctuary becomes a theater, the congregation becomes an audience, worship becomes entertainment, and man’s applause and approval become the measure of success. But when ministry is for the glory of God, His presence moves into the sanctuary. Even the unsaved visitor will fall down on his face, worship God, and confess that God is among us.”

I’m not suggesting we start turning over tables in church foyers. But without Christ as the focus of our activities, our church is dead. No matter how hard we work to do things that serve and honor His name, none of our activities in themselves can achieve true kingdom results without the anointing and leading of the Holy Spirit.

From the outside, our fellowship may look righteous, but if we, as individuals, don’t maintain a focus on Jesus and pursue Him with all our heart, we’ll have a form of religion but not the power of the Holy Spirit.

What I am suggesting is that we make every effort to supplement our faith with the things of God instead of the things of the world. Otherwise, we will slowly drift away from God to pursue our own interests. We will become lukewarm and apathetic.

We have seen it happen to others. They stop going to worship at church; they stop studying the Scriptures; they stop praying; and they begin talking and acting like the world. God becomes a side-interest while they pursue other ambitions.

Now, if we want to strengthen our relationship and become zealous for God, we must start paying close attention to what God says and obey Him. As Jesus overturned all those tables, He cried out, “Take these things away!”

Likewise, our temples are to be cleansed of anything that takes the place of His rightful lordship. Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to convict us and rid us of those things, to prepare room for the things He wants to fill us with. He wants our temple to be once again a house of prayer, faith, and holiness—a temple of the Holy Spirit.

After all, Jesus didn’t die on the cross to proclaim a health and wealth gospel that puts us in the center of the universe. He sacrificed Himself to redeem our soul from sin and to give us eternal life. Jesus is interested in our soul (mind, will, and emotions), and one day He will judge our soul on whether we ever loved Him.

To gain a love and zeal for Christ, we have to make Him a priority in our lives every moment of every day. We must study the Bible because it reveals God’s thinking and His will for our lives. Then we must obey Him.

For example, if you obey these next few verses, you will be amazed how much your life will change.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

If we want to be zealous for God, then our faith in Christ must be our lifestyle. We have to surrender control of our life to Him. We must let Him overturn the tables and remove the weeds out of our life. Otherwise, His Word will get choked and we will not mature.

Luke 8:14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.

Notice, they hear the Word, they agree with the Word, but they continue what they were doing. Don’t be guilty of that today! Many Christians fail to grow in their relationship with God, because they let jobs, and hobbies, or recreation come between God and themselves. Well, none of these things is wrong; but if you let something, anything, take you away from God, you have an idol, which is sin. Sin destroys our zeal for God.

Romans 6:11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. This is the purpose of our life.

When our relationship with God is intimate and strong, then our souls want to serve God. But, when our relationship is weak, we let other things dominate our lives. If we seek God and His Kingdom first, then God will add to our lives all that we need plus blessings we never realized before.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Have the things of this world, or sin cooled your zeal for Jesus? Ask Him today to overturn the tables in your heart. If you’re letting sin have a place in your heart, then it’s time to get it out of God’s temple! You can’t love sin or the world and love God at the same time.

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Yes, we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by anything we do. However, God’s grace was never meant to leave us in a place of sin, apathy, and self-love. The opposite is true: When God’s grace is applied to our lives, it impassions us with zeal. It makes us more in love with Jesus, more aware of sin, more desirous of a clean life, more zealous for the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us. Zeal makes us enthusiastic and inspires us to tell others about Jesus.

Therefore, don’t let your love for Christ grow cold. Don’t grow weary in your struggle against sin and lose heart. Be filled daily with the Holy Spirit. Listen to God, love God, pray to God, develop an intimate relationship with God, and after that, tell everyone about His goodness and kindness in Christ Jesus.

Maybe you have never been enthusiastic about God because you don’t know Him, you don’t have a relationship with Him. All of us have been there! And there is good news! There is a way to know God and enjoy the life He created you to have.

First, ask God to give you faith to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who atoned for your sin on the cross. He will give you faith if you ask Him for it. Faith is not mental assent that Jesus is the Son of God; no, faith inspires a corresponding action to what you believe. Faith is being sure it is true; therefore, you act on it. We act on what we really believe. All the rest is religious talk.

Therefore, if you believe in Jesus as your Savior, ask God for grace to repent. Repentance is an act of surrender that says, “I will no longer do what I want to do, because Jesus is Lord of my life.” In repentance, we stop sinning, we cease our self-determination, we give up our rights, and we seek God’s forgiveness.

The Lord forgives us when by faith and repentance, we are willing to publicly confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God, who is now our Lord, and we follow Him in baptism.

In baptism, we’re crucified with Christ. We die to ourselves in order that our life of sin might be done away with. By faith, we are raised up and born again of the Holy Spirit. We are a new creation. As we daily walk by the Spirit instead of our flesh, the Holy Spirit fills us with zeal—a love ablaze for Jesus Christ.