April 2011 - Vol. 49.

Christ cleansing the temple, paintting by El Greco
Jesus: A Portrait of Zeal
by Jeanne Kun

Jesus, the servant-king foretold by Zechariah, rode humbly into Jerusalem on a donkey in a spirit of peace. But in cleansing the temple, he exhibited a bold and forceful zeal for his Father’s house. Jesus was moved not by a fit of temper but by righteous indignation and godly fervor.

Zeal is more than burning ardor or emotion-based enthusiasm. Rather, true zeal consists of a determined, unflagging dedication to something or to someone; a zealous spirit seeks to advance a cause, defend the truth, or render service. Godly zeal is a characteristic of great men and women of faith. David slew the Philistine aggressor, Goliath (1 Samuel 17:45-49). Deborah roused the faltering Barak into action to defeat the enemies of Israel (Judges 4:4-10). Paul first zealously persecuted those who believed in Jesus and then even more zealously proclaimed the good news of the gospel when he had become a believer (Acts 22:1-5; 2 Corinthians 11:23-27).

Just as Jesus and these heroes of the Bible spent themselves zealously for God and his service, we, too, are to be zealous for God himself, zealous for the gospel, zealous in good works, and zealous in defense of the faith.

Read and prayerfully reflect on these additional Scripture passages that describe zeal and how it is put to service for the Lord and his kingdom:

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand. . . . And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone, and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. (1 Samuel 17:45-46, 49)

Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. (Romans 12:11)

[O]ur great God and Savior Jesus Christ . . . gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds. (Titus 2:13-14)

[W]ho is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right? But even if you do suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:13-15)

[A]ccording to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. (2 Peter 3:13-14)

Jeanne Kun is President of Bethany Association and a senior woman leader in the Word of Life Community, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. 

This article is excerpted from God's Promises Fulfilled, The Word Among Us Press, Copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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