What Does Zealous Mean In The Bible
When studying the Bible, ‘zealous’ is a word which is found quite often. It describes a certain kind of passion and commitment that followers of God should aspire to. In its most basic sense, being zealous is about having a fervent devotion to a goal or a cause, a yearning to passionately pursue something important and noble. However, when it comes to Biblical interpretation, being zealous takes on a much more spiritual meaning, as the Bible itself describes the importance of being zealous for the Lord.
The first reference to being zealous in the Bible comes from the Book of Exodus, where God commands the Israelites to be zealous in their worship of the Lord: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” (Exodus 20:6). As is widely known, the Bible is full of references to being zealous for the Lord, with God himself often commanding his followers to pursue their faith with passion and vigor. In virtually all of the books of the Bible, there is a common theme of God wanting his people to be ‘zealous’ in everything they do.
But what does it truly mean to be zealot? There are a lot of interpretations, but to simplify it, being zealot essentially means having a passionate and fiery dedication to something, especially one’s faith or cause. Being zealous is about believing in something so much that it forms the core of your identity, so much so that you would do anything to achieve that goal or to pursue that passion. Being zealous is also about having a yearning for success, a burning desire to prove that you can do something great and important, regardless of the opposition.
The key to understanding zealousness is to remember that it is about having an unbridled passion for a goal and never giving up, no matter what. It is about having a drive and a desire to pursue something bigger than ourselves, something that we truly believe in. As the Bible says, “The glory of young men is their strength; and the beauty of old men is the grey head.” (Proverbs 20:29). So, in that sense, being zealous is about having the passion and commitment of youth combined with the wisdom of age. It is a union of an innocent enthusiasm and an experienced outlook, which is a powerful and admirable trait to have.
Although the Bible is full of examples of people being zealous, it is ultimately up to us to decide how we wish to approach our passion and our faith. Some may see being zealous as simply having a strong and unshakable devotion to the Lord, while others may take a more active approach, engaging in service or charity work to demonstrate their commitment. Ultimately, the important thing is that we remain committed and passionate, whatever course of action we decide to pursue.
Zeal in the New Testament
The New Testament contains several examples of people displaying zealousness, often involving energetic and brave pursuits such as missionary work and martyrdom. We see Jesus himself praising his followers’ zeal in Luke 19:37-38, where he says “Blessed are those who are zealous and keep up the good work”. The New Testament also portrays powerful figures like Paul and Barnabas, who display zealous behaviour, following God’s will to brave and amazing heights.
In addition, the New Testament advises that followers of God should be zealous in their faith, but in a humble and forgiving manner. Jesus advises us to love our enemies, even if it does not always feel easy to do. He also emphasizes the importance of forgiving those who have wronged us, as a sign of our true commitment to the Lord. Essentially, being zealous in the New Testament means to be bold and passionate in one’s faith and service to the Lord, while always keeping an open and humble heart.
This is important to remember, as it is easy to become overly-passionate and overzealous in one’s pursuits. When we lose sight of the need for humility and respect, our pursuits can quickly become misguided and misguidedness is something the Bible warns us against continuously. So, as we continue to pursue our faith and its goals passionately, we should always do so with an open mind and a humble heart.
Zeal for the Kingdom of God
When discussing zealousness in the Bible, it is important to remember what makes it so admired; namely, that it is about pursuing something that is greater than ourselves. More specifically, in the Bible, it is about pursuing the ‘kingdom of God’ – the concept of an ideal society where justice and mercy prevail, and all can live in peace and harmony. As followers of God, we are called to bring about this kingdom of peace by living lives of zealousness and dedication, no matter what challenges or difficulties we may encounter.
The Bible is full of admonitions to pursue the kingdom of God with passion, offering us countless examples of how to do so. In Psalm 37:3-4, we are instructed to ‘trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shalt give thee the desires of thine heart.’ This speaks of having a deep and unshakable faith in the Lord and relying on Him to fulfill our desires – an aspiration of zealousness in itself.
Essentially, zealousness for the kingdom of God is about believing in the truth of God’s word and pursuing His plan with vigor and enthusiasm. It is about having faith in something greater than ourselves and being willing to risk everything – our own lives, our comfort, and even our own beliefs – in order to bring about His kingdom of peace. This is the ultimate form of zealousness, and it is something that is highly admired in the Bible.
Zealous Living in Today’s World
It is important to remember when discussing zealousness in the Bible that it still applies to us today. We are all called to be living examples of zealousness – to pursue our faith, our passions, and our beliefs with an unbridled fervor, even in the midst of increasing challenges and opposition. As scary as it might be to risk yourself, your comfort, and your faith in the pursuit of something greater, rest assured that God will not abandon you.
When faced with any sort of opposition or challenge, it is important to remember the example of Jesus, who always put others first, even when it cost him dearly. We too should strive to put others before ourselves and pursue our faith and our passions with an unwavering determination and commitment. To be a true example of zealous living, we must never be afraid to pursue justice and goodness, no matter what the cost.
It is also important to remember when discussing zealousness that each of us has our own unique gifts and abilities, and that our path to zealousness will look different from those around us. We must not be discouraged if our efforts to be zealous are not apparent to others, as it is often in the quieter and unseen moments that God’s hand is at work. True zealousness is a result of having deep convictions and pursuing them with courage and passion.
Famous Examples of Zealous Living
Throughout history, there have been many people who have demonstrated zealous living, often in the midst of very difficult circumstances. For example, the Christian martyrs St. Ignatius, St. Catherine of Siena, and St. John of the Cross all stood firm in their faith and committed their lives, even unto death, in pursuit of the Lord’s kingdom. Such examples remind us of the importance of maintaining a firm faith, despite the challenges that life throws our way.
Others who have embodied zealousness in their lives include social activists like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, who stood firm in their commitment to justice and equality, often in the midst of raising voices of opposition. Similarly, religious figures like Mother Teresa and Pope Francis, who chose to live a life of service and self-sacrifice, demonstrate the power of passionate commitment to a just cause.
Ultimately, these examples remind us of the importance of living zealous lives, dedicated to serving the Lord and helping to bring about His kingdom of peace. It is important to take time to remember these examples, as they show us that it is possible to withstand any opposition and have faith in a just cause, no matter what.
Zealous Living In Everyday Life
Although the examples of zealous living mentioned above may often seem daunting to live up to, zealous living is something that can be applied within our everyday lives, no matter how small or mundane our day-to-day tasks may seem. We can be zealous when we approach our workplace responsibilities, or when we choose to volunteer our time or resources to help those less fortunate than us.
We can also be passionate and dedicated in our parenting and teaching, treating our children and our students as important and valuable individuals that we are responsible for guiding. Such zealous living can be challenging, but it is essential to raising up a generation of young people who have strong convictions and a deep commitment to justice. And it is through this kind of zealous living that we can bring about the kingdom of God on earth.
Finally, one of the most important aspects of zealous living is having faith in God and His plan, trusting that His will be done. Demonstrating such faith can be difficult at times, especially when faced with opposition or hardships. But it is important to remember that God is with us in every step we take, and will never abandon us in our pursuit of goodness and justice.