Is Your Zeal Wasted?
We all have enthusiasm for church. There is a great fervor for Bible study, and there is excitement for the clothing drive at the local shelter. And zeal for worship abounds! But have you experienced the passion for prayer? Prayer grows ever more marvelous the more it increases in my life!
Recently I heard the whisper of the Lord in a deep, still quiet morning, “You have lost your first love for others.” I thought, wait a minute, my first love is about you! Isn’t that scripture about losing my first love for you? More to come on that in a minute.
I find this so true: we focus on a scripture out of context from the verse before or after it or take only part of the verse and lose the whole meaning of what the Holy Spirit was communicating through the writer.
A couple of examples:
Galatians 6:2, “Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the Law of Christ”. We usually read a translation that says something akin to, “Bear one another’s burdens…” We think, oh yea, we are supposed to help each other out when we are burdened down. No, that is not what the verse means. This particular translation says, “in this way”. What way? Rarely have I ran across anyone who knows the verse that precedes Gal. 6:2 and answers the question, “How do we bear each others burdens?”
Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted”. This is the way we carry the burdens of others, we become people who restore those who have taken a fall in sin, no matter what the sin. No matter what the sin? Bankruptcy, sexual sin, pornography, embezzlement, manslaughter, murder, the list goes on. And the answer is Yes.
How about this one:
James 5:16, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”. This is a verse most of us are familiar with. Not too long ago I decided to memorize the verse. I was shocked! Since taking a deeper look at this verse I have asked well over thirty people, “Do you know the first part of the verse? I have yet to get the right answer from one person. Do you know?
The answer is this, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Oops, Lord, do you mean that part of being a righteous man includes confessing my sin to other people and having them pray for me? How embarrassing. Kind of changes the verse by reading the entire words, Hugh.
Now let’s go back to that “first love” issue. In Revelations 2:2-3, eight signs are identified that show the great zeal of the church at Ephesus. But, there was something missing. The Lord said to them, “Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches” (verse 5). Wow! That is serious.
The same sin exists in the church today. It is alive and well in me and I am repenting as I write and confessing my sin right here. There is great enthusiasm for the study of the gospel and the truth. Oh, do we work hard serving! But, what does the Lord value most? He values–“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love each other or me as you did at first!” (verse 4). The sin is not loving God and each other as much as we are capable of!
What the Lord values most is tender, sweet, vulnerable, fervent love for Him and for each other. A Christian can work hard being a wonderful example to others; however, if this tender love for our savior and love for others is missing—it is all for naught in the eyes of Jesus.
My dear brothers and sisters, Revelations 2:2-5 speaks of our deep abiding in Jesus, making time every day to find the secret place in His presence. Absolutely everything in this journey with Jesus depends upon concentrated fellowship with Him in quietness, stillness, and intimacy—be still and know Him.
Is your zeal in religion to first know Christ? Does all your service, prayer and consumption of the Word flow from a profound yearning to know Him intimately? Let us declare with the Psalmist, “My soul thirst for thee, my flesh longs for thee”.