Zeal In Things That Matter

Christians who are “radical!” … “all in!” … “Over the top” … What do you think of them?

Sometimes they make compromising Christians uncomfortable.  They wish they’d “loosen up” a bit and not make such a “big deal” over everything that’s not quite “kosher” for Christ and what the Bible teaches.  They just seem to “draw the line” and “push back” a lot.  It’d be a lot easer to deal with them if they wouldn’t be so “cut and dried” about their convictions.  They seem to insist on “dotting every ‘I’ and crossing every ‘T’” They just make a lot of “ordinary Christians” feel uncomfortable!  Know what I mean?

My Bible reading today during my time of “coffee with the Lord” dealt with a guy like that – a spiritual leader in Israel after the exile in Babylon, named Nehemiah!  I mean you owe it to yourself to read Nehemiah 13 in your Bible and find out for yourself…

First it was an issue of who got to use a storage room in the Temple – a priest, Eliashib, had allowed Tobiah, a relative of His to use the storage room devoted to Levites and their ministry needs.  Nehemiah threw him out and the furniture he had there.

Then it was the violation of the Sabbath rest.  People were working on the Sabbath and bringing things to be bought and sold on the sacred Sabbath – the “Lord’s Day” in the Old Testament.  Nehemiah shut the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath, warned those who had violated it, and had the Levites guard the gates!

Finally, Nehemiah was incensed by the intermarriage of Israelites with their pagan neighbors.  In fact, the children of those unions could not even speak Hebrew as a result!  Godly values were being compromised.  Nehemiah “confronted them, rebuked them, beat some of them, pulled out their hair,” and made them take oaths to remedy the situation!

Zeal!!  …And you might think “over the top” zeal!  There’s even a verse of Scripture about Jesus, when He cleansed the Temple by driving out the money changers, in this regard… “His disciples remember that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me!’” (from Psalm 69:9)

Now that kind of zeal should not be expressed over private opinions, personal scruples, or debatable issues – but only when God’s word, His holiness, and the clear teaching of Scripture is violated!

But if Nehemiah was going to be attacked, criticized and resisted in his expression of zeal, his appeal was to God on these issues… He said, “Remember me, O my God concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for His service! … Spare me according to the greatness of Your steadfast love! … Remember me, O my God, for good!” (Nehemiah 13;14, 22, and 31)

And when zeal is expressed about the right things in an appropriate manner here is the New Testament promise… “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord!” (Romans 12:11 ESV) “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

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