What is the best example of zeal you have seen lately? Perhaps it was a political candidate giving an impassioned speech about how he or she intended to bring about major changes in our society. Maybe it was a salesman trying to convince viewers how much they needed his product and how it could make one healthy, wealthy and wise. It might have been some sports fans loudly cheering their home team. All of these people were probably filled with fervor and enthusiasm for their particular cause. This type of zeal is often contagious and can convince others to support the idea or offer they are presenting.
People who have zeal almost always have a goal with hopes of a gain of some type. Some areas are: money, prestige, knowledge, success, rank or impressing friends or mates. We understand that zeal can be a good thing or a bad thing depending upon the situation, but it is seldom neutral.
God Himself said, “…and I will be zealous for my holy name.” (This He did by bringing the Israelites back from captivity) (Eze 39: 25) When He saw that there was no justice among His people, He put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped Himself in zeal as in a cloak (Isa 59: 15-17). David said, “…the zeal for your house consumes me.” (Ps 69: 7-9) “…always be zealous for the fear of the Lord,” is good advice from Proverbs (23: 17). Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron was so zealous for the honor of his God that he killed an evil rebellious Israelite man and a Midianite woman with a spear and thus stopped the plague that had already claimed 24,000 of his countrymen (Nu 25: 6-15).
New Testament Christians are also instructed to, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor…” (Rom 2: 11) However, there is a warning in both Testaments, “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge…” (Pr 19: 2) And, “It is fine to be zealous provided the purpose is good…” (Gal 4: 18) Paul tells us that the Jewish leaders of his day were, “zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.” (Rom 10: 2)
Many an eager investor has lost huge amounts of money because he was zealous but not knowledgeable. Many sincere seekers of Christ’s will have been misled by false teachers because they failed to, “examine the Scriptures every day to see if what (Paul) said was true.” (Acts 17: 11) These Bereans had noble character as well as great eagerness (zeal). The right kind of zeal will replace a lukewarm attitude which Jesus said he hated (Rev 3: 15-17).