Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Life Without Godly Zeal

I am contemplating a phrase used by Matthew Henry in his commentary on Joshua -- he was postulating possible reasons for the disobedience of the children of Israel upon failing to drive the enemy out completely. Perhaps it was a lack of faith, maybe they were overcome with fear. Or could it have been a “want of zeal for the command of God?”

A “want of zeal for the command of God.” The phrase arrested me as I read it. What a dangerous condition. A sad plight, actually.

We are always in danger of succumbing to the weariness of our flesh. Let’s face it. Life can be long and frustrating. The enemy doesn’t surrender readily and sin seems to plague us. Sometimes we just don’t feel like trying anymore.

And would you suppose that He doesn’t know that? Do you think that perhaps He is not mindful of our frailty – that somehow He is unaware of our propensity to lose heart?

Think again and be encouraged. He has planned and provided even for this. The ready solution is to repent and ask Him for fresh zeal.

But that is where our part lies. We must recognize, acknowledge, and resist apathy. Eventually everyone comes to a place of weariness. The situation is “good enough, close enough, acceptable -- just the way it is.” We find that we are more akin to the children of Israel than we would like to think. Instead of driving out the enemy as the Lord commanded, they decided to live next door to them, demanding tribute from them rather than engaging in a battle to the end. After all, that would have to do. It was nearly complete obedience to the command – close enough, for sure. Many cities and peoples had already been conquered. Wars and more wars had been fought; battle after battle won. They had secured many victories; now it was time to settle down. On top of that, this enemy was stronger than the rest. So why shouldn’t they allow them to remain in the land, minding their own business? Where could the harm lie in this? It seemed acceptable just as it was. What do you think would have been easier – giving them their own little corner or driving them out, iron chariots and all?

What the children of Israel needed was to step back, recall His words, and repent for compliance to the enemy rather than compliance to His commands. Then they needed to throw themselves upon His great mercy, allowing Him to renew their faith and zeal.

zeal – enthusiastic devotion to a cause, ideal, or goal and tireless diligence in its furtherance

Romans 12:11 exhorts us to be fervent in spirit. In Revelations 3:19 we are called to be zealous and repent. Titus 2:14 states clearly that He intends us to be zealous for good works.

If we are to walk in sincere love and devotion to the Savior of our souls we cannot afford the pleasure of indulging in compliance, laziness, or ignorance. We cannot be comfortable while sin exists and the enemy continues to infringe upon His claim. Contentment with anything less than holiness is not to be tolerated.

Read 1 Corinthians 13. Then remember that His primary command is that we love. If you are not moved to repentance at your lack of genuine love toward the brethren then you are a candidate in need of renewing. Plead for fresh zeal and a desire to love what He loves. If we are not moved by His commands to love our neighbor as ourselves and to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength we are in danger of apathy. Zeal is not presently our portion. And that, actually, is a sad plight indeed.


Blogger sam said...

This speaks so deeply to me, I am sorely in need of fresh zeal. Now to take the action required to receive it.

3:49 PM  

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