Friday, December 5, 2014

Pretense of Zeal

When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."] And they went on to another village. (Luke 9:54-56 NASB)

The Samaritan village where Jesus intended to lodge for the night had refused Him accommodations, and James and John had offered to call down fire from heaven to destroy the town. It is commendable that they had such confidence in the power Jesus had given them, but they had misunderstood the example of Elijah. Had they looked to the example of Christ, they would have seen that never once did He ever call down judgement upon those who rejected Him. It is imperative that we not take an example in Scripture and use it to justify wrong-doing.

It was a good thing that the two disciples asked for Jesus' permission first before acting. He rebuked them for their desire for destruction. They did not know what spirit was acting in them in this desire, He said. Mathew Henry said it well when he wrote, "You are not aware what an evil spirit and disposition you are of, how much there is of pride, and passion, and personal revenge, covered under this pretence of zeal for your Master." 

That is so profound that it bears repeating. We don't see how much pride, passion, and personal revenge are covered by a pretence of zeal for the things of God. How often do we speak and act, ostensibly to protect the cause of Christ, in such a way that we end up causing more harm than good? It is so important to be aware of our motives behind the "righteous indignation" from which we want to act. 

Motive. Why we do what we do is critical, for one day, we will be held accountable for our actions. There is a school of thought that says, "Oh, the blood of Jesus will cover that," as if His redemptive gift relieves us of personal responsibility. May it never be that we treat the precious lifeblood of our Savior so casually. 

Dear ones, we must consider our words and actions carefully, choosing only those that are right and good. I speak as one who is entirely too impetuous with my words, and as one who has considerable progress yet to be made in this area. 

The contrast Jesus made between the spirit of the disciples and His Spirit, His desire, was stark. The Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them, He said. If that saving of men is the reason why our Lord came, it should be the motivating force behind our words and actions as well. Let us, then, be careful to think before we speak and pray before we act so that we can glorify our Father who is in Heaven rather than our own pretence of zeal. May our actions and words bring healing and not harm, redemption and not revenge. Let's point the way to Jesus in everything we do. 
The new book, The Waiting: When the Answer to Your Prayer is Delayed and Your Hope is Gone, as well as The Clay Papers and The Road to Bethlehem (an advent devotional guide) are now available at Get your copy today. 
Link to last night's post: