The Nature of Christian Zeal
2 Kings 10:16
And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD. So they made him ride in his chariot.

Truly it is delightful and instructive to see any creature exhibiting the proofs of an ardent zeal for the glory, of the great Creator, and directing the energies of his nature to this one object as the chief end of existence. Then, and then only, may it be said that he fills and adorns the station allotted to him in the scale of being; and he becomes sublimely associated with Deity when every selfish consideration is absorbed by an intense desire that God may be all in all. Such character and conduct Jehu affected to exhibit in this history, And in the person of Jehonadab, the son of Rechab, he found a witness of his deeds the most suitable he could have desired. Our object in selecting the passage is not to hold out an example, but a caution. The light of sound instruction is to be found here. Let us reflect on the indications of a zeal essentially defective, and on those of one permanently influential.

I. THE INDICATIONS OF A ZEAL ESSENTIALLY DEFECTIVE. It will be proper here to notice —

1. The motives which usually prevail. They are such as are accordant with the reign of selfishness. Of course, it is not intended to enter into a minute and extended investigation of the various motives which may be brought into play, in connection with the exhibitions of religions zeal. A few may suffice which are known to have an influence on the minds of men with regard to missionary operations. For instance, natural compassion for the temporal miseries of our species. Far be it from us to speak in terms of disparagement of such a feeling, it is excellent, so far as it goes; as on its influence, in a great measure, depends the preservation of the general framework of society. It need scarcely to be remarked, that, however excellent this feeling of compassion may be, it may exist, and in a strong degree, apart from any concern for the glory of God or the welfare of men's souls. A desire to propagate our own opinions and practices in matters of religion has often produced considerable effect on the minds of men. The vanity to be esteemed benevolent may also prove a powerful motive to exertion.

2. The degree of excitement produced by an appeal to such motives may be as strong as any of which nature is capable. Such as we have referred to evidently animated the Arabs in the infancy of the Moslem faith, and fined them with a vigour and a daring that scorned all opposition and difficulty, and that resulted in wonderful success. And were not these the motives co which appeal was made, when by the preachings of Peter the Hermit, and of the Pope, the indignation of Europe was roused; and when her potent states vied with each other in pouring forth their armed multitudes to meet the Saracens in the Holy Land — when the victorious soldiers waded through the blood of their foes to sing praises to Christ at His altar, as if in defiance of the precept which He had enjoined on His followers — "Bless them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you"?

3. There are certain limitations, by which such motives will be necessarily restrained. The coincidence of the gratification of self-love with the claims of philanthropy will ever determine the extent of activity. And this coincidence we cannot expect to be of long continuance. Some novel and therefore more popular cause will divert the attention.

4. The improbability of enjoying the Divine blessing while actuated by such motives. That God may bless, notwithstanding their influence, we are not inclined to doubt, but certainly, we are not warranted to expect a blessing, unless taught to act on higher principles. Let us therefore seriously examine ourselves with regard to our real motives.

II. THE INDICATIONS OF A ZEAL PERMANENTLY INFLUENTIAL; of which it may be predicted at the outset of its career that it will prove co-extensive with the energies of life.

1. Such zeal must arise, we apprehend, from the effectual application of the Gospel to the heart. Without this, we cannot conceive how a man can really desire the increase of true religion, as he can have no just idea of its nature.

2. Motives corresponding with this experience will incline the believer to seek the conversion of sinners in the heathen world. Such we conceive the following to be. A desire to promote the glory of God, whose character is dishonoured by the practices of idolatry.

3. Universality and permanence of zeal are thus secured. Selfish zeal is partial; in the case of Jehu, the idolatry of Baalim is overthrown; but an idolatry equally offensive is countenanced at Bethel and Dan. He who acts under the influence of the motives peculiar to a renewed mind, is likely to aim at universality of obedience to Divine directions; and as He who has begun a .good work in him, .will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ; his zeal, allowing for some variations of intensity and modes or exercise, will continue till time is exchanged for eternity.

4. Some important illustrations of the zeal which springs from the power of religion within. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave a perfect exemplification of this zeal. Of course His zeal was displayed under very different circumstances from ours, and was free from the internal counteraction that we too often feel; but in this leading feature, we observe the general analogy; His zeal proceeded from the purity of His character, it was the index of His religious feeling, of His regard for the glory of God, and the salvation of souls.

5. The intensity of our zeal will depend on that of our religion: the one cannot languish without the other. Hence our real prosperity may be more deeply involved in the vigour of our zeal for the Lord than we have perhaps suspected: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee" (Psalm 122:6). The health of a tree is promoted, rather than injured, in bearing fruit.

(J. Jones.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD. So they made him ride in his chariot.

WEB: He said, "Come with me, and see my zeal for Yahweh." So they made him ride in his chariot.

The Good and Evil in Jehu
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