I hit the snooze button and fell back into a mindless slumber. The extra 20 minutes felt necessary at the moment. I slept right through my meeting time with God. It had been a long week, long nights and even longer days. I was exhausted and the soft pillow comforted my aching mind. As I jumped out of bed in a frenzy, kicking myself for choosing the few extra minutes over Jesus, I thought of the words Jesus muttered to two of his most devoted followers: “Mary has chosen what is best and it will not be taken from her.” It wasn’t the first time those words rolled through my soul, just a few nights before as I sat preparing for a lesson, my eyes caught the dim light of the oven clock; 12:41. “What? How is it already past midnight?” As I debated on closing the sacred writings and turning in, those words echoed encouragement from the heavenlies. But this morning was different, now they were a reminder of what I lost in a mere 20 minutes of extra sleep. A lot can happen at the feet of Jesus. Hearts are healed, paths are made clear, conditions change, mountains are moved, doubts are erased and minds are cleared. No doubt I needed rest, sleep is good but it’s not what’s best. Intimacy with the Savior; that’s what’s best.
As the day marched on, this story, these two women were dictating my mind. The contrast between the two is stuff sermons are made of, their lives preach. Yet, something popped out that I hadn’t noticed before, there within the short story we see a contrast of passion. Here in the all too familiar pages of Luke 10 our zeal is being challenged.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Romans 12:11
It’s so easy for our passion to be kindled. Our lives get in the way and throws a wet towel over the fire within our bones. The world is good at that; extinguishing the tiniest spark of holy. Satan has an entire arsenal of fire extinguishers, ready to go at any given moment. Zeal is His worst nightmare. So he comes for it with all the power of hell. As a result we get our feelings hurt, we are exhausted, we’re overwhelmed, frustrated and overworked. The demands of life pile up on us and stifle out that flame. Passion gets overtaken by duty and the fire within us is depressed.
Zeal has to be fed or it will starve to death. We get busy,so the fire dies from starvation.
“For this reason I urge you to fan the flame, the gift of God that is in you….” 2 Timothy 1:6
Paul told this to his young son in the faith, because he knew of all the things that vie for our time, zeal will be suffocated if it’s not stirred. When you stir the coals of a fire, it’s as if are giving it cpr. It causes air to start circulating and the fire catches its breath and the blaze grows larger and hotter. A life without zeal isn’t much of a life and a ministry without zeal is ineffective. In order to maximize the influence given to us, zeal has got to be alive and well. Nobody is attracted to someone who is dejected and depressed. Without passion our point will never be made. No passion, no point. In 2 Corinthians 9
we see an example through the eagerness of the Corinthians, “your zeal stirred them up…”. Our zeal breeds zeal, just like fire brings more fire.
Zeal means heat according the Greek New Testament. There’s a lot of things in the world that can get us heated up; football (or any sport), politics, careers etc. Passion projects where our heart is. Answer this question: what are you passionate about? What cause your blood to get hot and your heart to race? The answer to that question will no doubt lead us to the throne of our heart.
Zeal requires us to be intentional. We’ve all seen a flame fizzle out in someone, something that once drove them, now is obsolete; it lost its power. A passion that has lost its power has lost its effect. Whatever it was, for some reason, that thing ceased to burn within our souls, it no longer ignites response. Where there was once a raging blaze, now is cold embers; ashes, the relics of a once blazing fire.
“Hell trembles when men kindle.”
I have that wrote above my desk as a reminder that the Flame within needs to be stirred regularly.
“Be a woman who when your feet hit the floor, the devil says “oh no she’s up.” I don’t want to sound cynical, but this has been rolling around in my mind for a while. I see that quote all over the place. It’s a worthy goal, yet as many of us that want to be this woman, very few are willing to do the work that is required for this to actually become reality; early morning prayer times, late night bible study, inconvenient service opportunities. All of this is required for a valiant soilder of the kingdom, but something else fuels all of that; zeal. If we don’t have zeal our prayers will be ineffective. Without zeal bible study becomes more about gathering knowledge then about getting to know the Writer. For zeal without knowledge is folly, but knowledge without zeal is legalism. And if our service is lacking zeal it will be cold and ineffective. Our service was meant to spread the fire not stifle it. Mary and Martha both had zeal. However one was misplaced. One was zealous about serving, the other zealous about Jesus. Whenever the two are seperated our hearts will freeze. Zeal must come before service or our hearts will ice over from lack of the Spirits heat.
Zeal does more than fuel these things, it is an indicator of our hearts. A life void of zeal highlights a cold heart. I can’t think of a single thing would break the heart of God more than for a child of God to be cold toward the kingdom of God. Many, many things transpire out of the coldness of a zeal-less heart; all manner of sin and strongholds as well as defeat and despair. Martha’s words were like icicle daggers that came from her heart “Jesus tell her to help me!” Martha, Martha you are worried and upset about MANY things…”. A cold heart collapses under the weight. It is constructed out of worry, bitterness and strife, none of which is strong enough to hold the weight of our emotions. Cold people are often the most emotional and demanding.
Coldness is the direct opposite of zeal. Two extremes, that most of us try to avoid. We don’t want to be cold but we don’t want to be a fanatic either. Interestingly enough Jesus has something to say about that lukewarm; it’s repulsive.
So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:16
We are commanded to be zealous, so there’s no excuse for apathy. Jesus will not accept our pathetic alibis for our cold indifference. So how do we get it- this holy fire? How do we infuse these minds that are bent toward the dark with the warmth of the sacred blaze? How do you melt a heart that is froze solid?
The answer is pretty simple; sit at His feet. As we sit before Him, something stirs within us. A longing for the divine, a hunger for glory, adoration and sacrifice, it all collides within us causing a spark to ignite. It’s here that our cold hearts melt and become engulfed with the fire of the Spirit.
That’s what we are called to; a wildfire faith