Zeal Without Consistency
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.

Jehu is not in any sense an interesting person. An energetic and bold man; prompt in action, determined and thoroughgoing, unfeeling and unscrupulous; well fitted for his particular work, a work of judgment upon those who had sinned beyond mercy. He had a Divine commission, and executed it faithfully. In softer days we read impatiently of acts of severity, even when done in God's behalf or by God's command. We do not feel sin as we ought, and therefore we often cherish a kind of morbid sympathy with the sinner. Such was Jehu's office, and he discharged it well. He could say with truth, as he says in the former part of the text, "Come with me and see my zeal for the Lord." It was not here that he failed. His zeal for God was thorough in act, and perhaps sincere in intention. The fault was that, while he had a real zeal, he had no true obedience. He could enforce God's law upon others, but he could not obey it himself. He maintained that political expedient of symbols of worship placed in his frontier cities by which the first king of the ton tribes had sought to keep his people from being attracted back to the house of David in Jerusalem; he continued the worship of the golden calves that were in Bethel and that were in Dan, though he had broken down the image of Baal and the temple of Baal, and destroyed his worshippers in Samaria. And therefore in those days, even in the reign of him who had done such good service to the cause of God in his earlier years, "the Lord began to cut Israel short"; and Jehu himself is handed down to us not as an example, but rather as a warning, while upon his tomb we read the condemning inscription: "Zeal without consistency; zeal without obedience; zeal without love."

1. Zeal is the same word as fervour. In its forcible original meaning, it is the bubbling up of the boiling spirit; the opposite of an impassive, cold-hearted indifference; the outburst of that generous indignation which cannot endure to see right trampled underfoot by might; the overflowing of that gratitude, devotion, love towards God, which counts no toil irksome and no suffering intolerable if it may express its own sense of His greatness, of His goodness, of His long-suffering of Christ, and draws others by its example to know and to speak good of His name; the glowing warmth of that Divine humanity which would willingly spend, and be spent, in snatching but one or two brands from the burning. This is what we mean by zeal. The zeal of Jehu was of a lower order than this. Yet even Jehu may reprove. Would that there were more of us — must I say, that there were any of us? — who could say in any true sense, like Jehu, "Come with me and see my zeal for the Lord!" Any zeal for God, even an ignorant, a mistaken, a rash zeal, were better far for us than none. Instead of it what have we? We show our zeal for God — if that sacred name can thus be parodied — chiefly by the infliction of arbitrary and most dis. proportionate punishment upon offenders, not against the moral law of God but against the moral law of the world. Where God has spoken, man may sin and scarcely suffer; where the world has spoken, no sorrow and no suffering, no lapse of time, no sincerity of repentance, and no consistency of amendment, is allowed to replace the erring man or woman within the pale of a human sympathy, or even of a Christian charity. Such is zeal for God, when debased and disfigured by the modifying hand of man.

2. And this brings us to apply to ourselves, in the way of counsel and warning, the unfavourable part of the character before us. Jehu had a zeal for God, but Jehu nevertheless took no heed to walk in God's law with all his heart.

(1) There is great force in that word, "took no heed" — observed not, as the margin renders it — to walk in God's way. We all know what heedlessness is in a child. In the things of religion, in the ways of God and of the soul, we are all too much children. To the heedlessness of human nature most of our sins may be traced up. "Wherewithal shall a man cleanse his way?" etc. (Psalm 119:9).

(2) Jehu took no heed to walk in God's law "with all his heart." Is not this the fault in our service, the cause of our heedlessness, that the heart is not right with God? Therefore it was that Jehu gave zeal, but could not give obedience; gave zeal, but could not give consistency; gave zeal, but could not give love. And therefore it is that we too often give neither zeal nor obedience, neither zeal nor love. Christian zeal, like Christian- faith, worketh by love. If you are tender to the suffering, if you are plain with the sinful — yet both alike in humility and in all kindness — then you may hope that your zeal has something in it of Christ. But, most of all, look within. Look to the heart. See whether there is any love of God there.

(The Dean of Llandaff.)

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.

Zeal Illustrated by the Character of Jehu
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