Unfading Zeal

When I was a babe in the Lord, twenty years old and fresh out of the Army, I went to church camp for the first time in my life. I was young in the faith, abounding in zeal and overflowing with joy. This was quickly evident to my fellow campers. Sometime during the week, one of my cabin counselors, a Bible school student who may have been a whole two years older than me, took me aside and tried to give some helpful counsel to this greenhorn. “Don’t get me wrong,” he said, “I appreciate your zeal,” then he proceeded to instruct me on the ephemeral nature of zeal and warn me that mine would soon wear off. His wore off. Everybody’s wears off. This advice did not sit well with me. I looked him in the eyes and said, “I will never stop being zealous.” He just shook his head at me like I was a cocky ignoramus, and then he walked away. No sweat off my back. I thought he was just another Christian who had let the fire cool.

Fast forward thirty-five years. I am still as zealous — or almost as zealous anyways — as I was that day at camp. Now I confess that I have had my struggles over the years — deep water, discouraging times, trials where I felt like death warmed over. But by the grace of God I have always bounced back—the fire has always been stirred back up, refueled, and fanned into flame.

This raises a question. Why do we let the fire die? There are many reasons, but they boil down to just a couple. The most common is worldy and earthly desires that slowly chip away at our heavenly fire and vision. The other is discouragement. Things don’t work out for us in the work of God they way we envisioned, so we lose our vision. Both are spiritual tragedies.

But spiritual cooling can be averted if we take four steps. The first thing we must do is stay in the Word and in prayer, with a keen appreciation of the fact that we are the Lord’s stewards and servants. This is our daily “rinse and repeat.” The second thing we must do is keep our eyes on our imperishable, untainted, and unfading reward in heaven (1 Pet. 1:4). It’s hard to pursue the world’s dung when your eyes are on an infinite treasure in heaven. The third thing we must do is find something we love to do in the work of God and do it with all of our heart — even if it is something as behind the scenes as a ministry of prayer or helps. It is much harder to be distracted when we are busy and even harder when we are busy in something we enjoy. The fourth thing we must do is keep our eyes on the process of serving (watering and planting), and let the Lord worry about the fruit. If we allow ourselves to put too much stock in goals and ambitions, especially with a time-frame attached, we can easily grow frustrated or discouraged.

Galations 4:18 says, “It is good to always be zealous in a good [work or service].”
This could be paraphrased, “It is good to always be fired with vision for a good ministry.”
So keep the fire roaring … controlled fire in the heart of the Christ-centered believer makes the devil’s knees knock.

Have an amazing week in the service of our amazing master, who serves his people just as wonderfully as he rules over them.

“Eyes wide open, brain engaged, heart on fire.”

Lee W. Brainard

 

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