Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous, therefore, and repent. Revelation 3:19
Zealous – Are you zealous for God? “I think so,” you might answer, “but I’m not sure what you mean.” Yes, it’s confusing. We don’t use the word zeal much in these days of tolerance and universal humanism. When we do, it is almost always pejorative. No one wants to be a zealot today. But God wants you to be zealous. In fact, He is so interested in your ardent commitment to Him that He is willing to reprove and discipline you until you are absolutely on fire for Him.
Of course, God does not have the Greek understanding of zeal in mind. The Greek word, zeloo, brings with it the idea of intense human striving to improve personality. It is the muted battle cry of the moral majority. If only we had the qualities necessary for a richer, fuller life. We hear it from the humanists. If only we were nobler, kinder, more enlightened. The educators follow suit. If only we had better self-esteem or better self-worth. All of this Greek-based appeal to enhanced personality is far from God’s view of zeal. That’s because God’s idea comes through the Hebrew mind. There the word is qana’. It is quite literally the state of existence that is consumed with exalting God by “maintaining purity of worship and purity of obedience.” It is exactly what Jesus had in mind when He suggested that those who love Him will keep His commandments. This is not a condition built on a feeling. This is a commitment to thought and action. God’s zealots are sold out to His word, honoring its every implication in order to show reverence to their King. They take every opportunity to worship, offering thanksgiving and praise to their Lord. They live to serve Him. Nothing and no one gets in the way.
Why does God want you to be zealous? Why is He willing to take the time and effort to train and discipline you in order to produce this condition of absolute fidelity? The reason God bothers with all this is because God is zealous – and He wants you to be like Him. In fact, qana’ is used over and over to describe the character of God. God will not tolerate a rival for your affections. He will not admit any competitor. He wants your full endorsement, trust and love. He guards His relationship with you as a jealous husband, anxious to keep any threat to the union far from the door. That zeal is the reason why God takes us back, even after we have slept with the enemy. God’s fervor for our affection never falters. We are seduced and we seduce others. We chase the passions of this world, thinking they will offer relief to our burdened souls. In the end, we are nothing but twitching addicts. Without a zeal for God, life deteriorates into an endless series of hopeless fixes.
God knows that we were made for total, sold-out commitment. We don’t really experience life as it should be until we find our place in fervent devotion to Him. God invites us, challenges us, commands us to put everything on the line in worship and obedience. It is the only way – and He will not rest until we are chastened enough to accomplish this goal.
Now, are you zealous for God?