For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. —Romans 10:2 NIV
It was an early November snow. The plow had come by, and we needed to shovel what was left behind at the end of the drive. So with shovels in hand out we ventured. With me were my three oldest grandchildren and my little companion dog Bella. Since she doesn’t run away—she wants (always) to be with her people—I let Bella run freely about while we shoveled. It was fun.
But then … I heard it. The plow was returning for another sweep of the road. Yikes! I had a seven-, a five-, and two-year-old who needed to be moved quickly from the street’s edge and up to the yard. I managed to get the three children to safety and called for Bella. That’s when it happened.
My twelve-pound dog decided that the plow represented a threat to her beloved children and me. So, she attacked it. Yup. She raced alongside it so dangerously close to the huge wheels looming above her that I despaired. I shouted and screamed to no avail. She raced beside the big plow until it was off our street and halfway down the next, and then she trotted home triumphantly having clearly scared off the big beast.
Oh, Bella. You had the zeal to protect us, but you lacked the knowledge you needed to be safe. Yikes. What a mixture of relief and frustration I felt when you turned back and trotted home!
You know, we often have zeal for God without knowledge, too. And that can be a dangerous thing. For example, we sometimes get all lathered up about a small issue and are so zealous about it that we end up alienating just about everyone who doesn’t precisely agree with us. In that zeal we can lose sight of the knowledge that God’s greatest commands deal with loving Him and loving others (Matthew 22:37-40).
I remember trying to convince someone of the value of all human life from conception. Now, that is not a minor issue in my book. However, I got so loud and raged so violently in my zeal, that the poor person on the other end of the conversation could not hear my thoughts. All she could do was shield herself from me. I did not listen. I did not learn from her and try to hear her heart. I did not love her well. I was in my early twenties at the time, and I caused a lot of damage because I had the zeal, but not the knowledge of God and how He would have me treat others.
God calls us to live a life of love (Ephesians 5:2). He tells us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:12). When sharing our faith, the Bible says to do it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). Jesus wants people to know we are Christians by our love (John 13:35). Wow. We need to know these commands of God whenever we feel zealous about an issue. Let’s strive to partner our zeal with knowledge of who God is and how He wants us to treat others.
Lord, teach me how to be zealous for You and for truth with the knowledge that You also call me to be kind, loving, and gentle with others. You are Love. You so loved the world You died and by that death saved it. Help me, Lord, not to disobey Your greatest commands, to love You and to love others, even as I gently share Your truths. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
You are loved,
Sweet Selah Ministries
To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)
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