By Genevieve Smith
- The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines zeal primarily in Biblical terms:??denoting ardent feeling (taking the form of love, wrath,??jealousy’ or righteous indignation). ?? It also defines it as??Ardour in the pursuit of an end or in favour of a person or cause; active enthusiasm. ??Have you seen a zealous person before? Someone who emanated zeal? Wasn’t it electrifying? Didn’t you just want to follow along behind? Didn’t you just hope that some of their enthusiasm would rub off onto you? Didn’t you want to be around them? Didn’t you want to be just like them?And yet have you witnessed misdirected zeal? The type of zeal that takes a person and others down the wrong track? Which makes mountains out of molehills? Which detracts from life’s goal and purpose? This sort of zeal is pointless and dangerous.Zeal/enthusiasm/ardour are all very attractive to us when we observe them in others. If we are zealous or enthusiastic, we soon learn that we can use our passions to influence others mightily. Our influence could be in something small, such as a decision over whether to drink Coca-Cola or Pepsi, or it could be in something bigger, such as a decision to purchase a Holden or a Ford. And it could even be over the direction of a person’s life, ambitions, and purpose.
As Christians, our purpose in life is to apply our zeal towards bringing glory to God and (this is pretty exciting to me) enjoying Him forever! We are to be actively enthusiastic in the pursuit of obeying God in order to bring Him glory. Wow!
If we could be zealous about obeying God, what would that mean? It’d mean we’d enjoy obeying God. We’d like it. We’d love it. We’d want to do it always. We’d be visionary about it. It would give us purpose. We’d never want to stop obeying Him! We would be enthusiastic it about it. We’d want to tell everyone else around us,??Hey, y’all, this is the way to go! ?? We would be like bright lights burning on a hill. Our zeal would attract others.
Of course, our responsibility as Christians is to ensure that our zeal is not misapplied and that we are actually being obedient to God in our enthusiasm.
Whether we are being obedient should be easy for us to determine. Rather than relying on extra revelation from God to help us figure out what God wants us to do, we should be guided by His Word as revealed in Scripture.
This is where our subject of zeal becomes real exciting for us girls (guys too, but I’m writing for us girls)! God tells us what He wants us to do (how we can be obedient) in Scripture. He tells us for what reason(s) He has created us. He tells us what our purpose is. He tells us what we need to learn and know. He tells us what our duties are. He has been, in fact, perfectly merciful and kind to us girls in spelling out in Scripture exactly what He wants us to do, for we can be hopelessly befuddled at times.
Mind you, it is not surprising that we would be hopelessly befuddled at times, or that we would misdirect our zeal more often than not, since it is the stated ambition of our enemy, the devil, to turn us girls from God and cause us to disobey His commandments.
And to what is it that God wants us to direct our zeal, as women?
??And the LORD God said,??It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’ ?? ~ Genesis 2:18
God wants us to be zealous about helping our future husbands (and in the absence of husbands, our fathers).
??Then God said,??Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them,??Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ ?? ~ Genesis 1:26-28
Here God elaborates on how we are to help our husbands. He wants us to be enthusiastic about having children. He wants us to love and to be jealous of the children that He gives to us. And He wants us to have an ardent enthusiasm for working alongside our husbands in raising our children and in assisting them as they seek to fulfil the mandate to take dominion.
??A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the LORD your God. ?? ~ Deuteronomy 22:5
God wants us to be zealous about being women, about being feminine. He wants us to embrace the role He has for us as women and glory in it!
??The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things-that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. ?? ~ Titus 2:3-5
This could be the passage that makes me the most enthusiastic about where God wants us to direct our zeal! He wants us to love our husbands. If it does not excite you that the Lord wants us to love our husbands, I don’t know what will! The Lord wants us to have zeal in loving our children! Wow. He wants us to be zealous in being discreet! He wants us to have zeal for chastity! He wants us to be zealous for our purity. He wants us to be zealous in being homemakers! He wants us to have zeal for cooking and cleaning and keeping house! He wants us to have zeal in being good and in obeying our husbands!
This passage is not just for the married women. Unmarried women can be zealous in learning how to love husbands and children. Unmarried women can have great zeal in learning to be discreet and chaste and pure and good. In fact, there is nothing quite like an unmarried girl pursuing and learning these things to give hope back to a community and to warm the hearts of older folks. And God has given unmarried women fathers so that they can learn to love and be obedient to their future husbands by learning to love and be obedient to their fathers. And He has given them siblings so that they can learn to love their future children by learning to love their siblings.
In the face of how the devil has convinced our culture to believe things contrary to each of these passages, can we be zealous for the things of God? Can we do this girls? Can we bring glory to God by obeying Him in the things He wants us to be obedient in? Can we be feminine with glorious zeal? Can we learn how to be chaste and how to pursue purity with zealous abandon?
Of all the things in life we could have zeal for–money, friendships, makeup, jewelery, cars, music, clothing, entertainment, books, politics or whatever–I pray that we can all develop a zeal for obeying God in the things, in the role, and through the duties He has for us.
May He give us all such a zeal!
Genevieve Smith is the eldest daughter of Craig and Barbara Smith. Her Dad is the National Director of the Home Education Foundation in New Zealand. She enjoys assisting him in his ministry as well as working with her Mum in their home and playing with her younger siblings.