What comes to your mind when you first think of this word? Perhaps it is a mob of protestors raising signs? Maybe you think of Twitter trolls, or religious fanaticism? Another alternative is to attribute zeal to those with great drive; these are the people with a “get up and go!” mentality. They are the successful businesswomen, the passionate speakers, the Ted-talkers, the world-famous athletes, and the motivational innovators of the future.
In a November 2016 article from the BBC, Usain Bolt, “the fastest man in the world“, said, “People always say to me ‘Usain, it looks so easy.’ It’s not easy… it’s a lot of work, you just don’t see it. And all the injuries and stress that I go through and what I’m thinking…. all these things I just want to share with the world.”
Usain’s passion and perseverance have paid off in so many ways as he has broken countless records and holds the medals and trophies to prove it.
We may never be as fast as Usain Bolt, but we have to ask, “What am I going to dedicate my life to?” Even Bolt will one day be too old to race and he will have to ask the question, “what happens after the finish line?”
While some people need their zeal directed toward things which hold eternal significance, others need an internal awakening of passion to begin with. Many teens and young adults struggle with finding something they care deeply about, enough to sweat and bleed for, even to die for. What about you?
What are you zealous about? And is it worth your time and your life?
Here are a few simple questions I’ve posed to help guide my own pursuits as I dedicate time and energy toward things that are significant.
How to measure your zeal:
1. What are you zealous about?
– Does it qualify as a good work? (Titus 2:!4)
– Is it sustainable? Many things we invest in and are passionate about when we are young, are not sustainable objectives later in life.
– Are you the sole beneficiary of your zeal? Are you passionate, only because it feeds your pride and ego?
– Or, does it benefit others and provide opportunity for Gospel proclamation?
2. Are you zealous for the right reasons?
– Is your goal wealth and popularity? These are poor reasons for zeal and can be as easily lost as they are gained.
– Does your zeal promote love, joy, peace, and patience in your heart and actions?
Or does your zeal display itself in condescension, hatred, and selfishness?
– Is your zeal genuine? Are you keeping up appearances or are you truly motivated to be zealous for the glory of God?
There are many things that we can be zealous about: Our families, our jobs, our schooling, politics, sports teams, hobbies, the list goes on and on… But, there is a necessary structure to the primacy we give to our passionate pursuits. If we have great zeal and mistakenly place anything higher than the pursuit of glorifying God, we will never find satisfaction in anything else.
“What does it profit a man (or woman) to gain the whole world and forfeit his (or her) soul?” (Mark 8:36)
This is why, no matter what else I am passionate about in life, I want my zeal to be founded upon the good news of Jesus Christ. Truth, not feelings, must be the foundation of our zeal. But I would argue if that truth does not spark emotion, then the truths are not convictionally realized.
I told my wife yesterday, if there is one quote I have encountered recently, outside of Scripture that has motivated me the most toward zeal and a focused passion for my life, it has been this following quote from J.C. Ryle. I hope you’ll take a moment to read it:
A zealous man in religion is pre-eminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, thorough-going, whole-hearted, fervent in spirit. He sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed-up in one thing — and that one thing is to please God. Whether he lives — or whether he dies; whether he has health — or whether he has sickness; whether he is rich — or whether he is poor; whether he pleases man — or whether he gives offence; whether he is thought wise — or whether he is thought foolish; whether he gets blame — or whether he gets praise; whether he gets honor, or whether he gets shame — for all this the zealous man cares nothing at all. He burns for one thing — and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God’s glory.
If he is consumed in the very burning, he cares not for it–he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn; and if he is consumed in burning, he has but done the work for which God appointed him.J.C. Ryle
What are you zealous about?
This week brings to an end to my first attempt to write a post beginning with every letter of the English alphabet. It took a little longer than expected, but I am truly grateful for everyone who has read, commented, and shared this exciting part of Called to Words beginning, the journey continues!
I have some great ideas for what I would like to do next, but I would first like to hear from my readers. Do you have any suggestions for what you would like to see next?
Thanks again for taking the time to read!