‘Simon called Zelotes.’ Luke 6:15
Suggested Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 7:5–11
Christian zeal feeds itself upon a sense of gratitude.
‘Loved of my God, for him again, with love intense I’d burn,
Chosen of thee ere time began, I choose thee in return.’
Look ‘to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged,’ and you will see abundant reason why you should spend and be spent for God. Zeal for God feeds itself upon the thought of the eternal future. It looks with tearful eyes down to the flames of hell and it cannot slumber: it looks up with anxious gaze to the glories of heaven, and it cannot but bestir itself. Zeal for God thinks of death, and hears the hoofs of the white horse with the skeleton rider close behind. Zeal for God feels that all it can do is little compared with what is wanting, and that time is short compared with the work to be done, and therefore it devotes all that it has to the cause of its Lord. Next, zeal for God feeds itself on love to Christ. Lady Powerscourt says somewhere, ‘If we want to be thoroughly hot with zeal, we must go near to the furnace of the Saviour’s love.’ Get to know how Christ loved you, and you cannot but love him. Do but know how he was spat upon and despised, and how he bled and died for us, and we cannot but feel that we can do and bear all things for his name’s sake. Above all, Christian zeal must be sustained by a vigorous inner life. If we let our inner life dwindle, if it begins to be dwarfish, if our heart beats slowly before God, we shall not know zeal; but if all be strong and vigorous within, then we cannot but feel a loving anxiety to see the kingdom of Christ come, and his will done on earth, even as it is in heaven.
For meditation: While misplaced zeal is a worthless and dangerous thing (Romans 10:2; Philippians 3:6), the Lord is zealous (Isaiah 9:7; 37:32; John 2:17) and he expects his people to be zealous too (Titus 2:14; Revelation 3:19).
Sermon no. 639
16 July (1865)