Monday, May 15, 2017

Zeal and Ambition

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

One day, Jesus was walking on the north shore of Galilee near Capernaum when He saw James and John with their Father Zebedee along with other hired servants. Like Andrew and Peter, James and John were fishermen. Jesus called them to follow Him. “I’ll make you fishers of men,” He said [Mark 1.19-20]. The call must have been compelling because they immediately left their Father and hired servants in the boat, and began following Christ.

When you read the Gospels, it’s easy to see that James and John were zealous and ambitious men. Jesus saw that in them too and gave them a nickname, Boanerges, which means, “Sons of Thunder [Mark 3.17]. Their zeal got the better of them on occasions. Like the time a Samaritan village rejected some disciples and they asked permission to burn it down with heavenly fire [Mark 3.17]. That’s pretty zealous, don’t you think? Or the time when they persuaded their Mother to ask Jesus to give them a prominent place when He came into His kingdom [Matthew 20.20-28]. That’s quite ambitious, right? They wanted power and position, but Jesus only promised them suffering. For James, it would mean a martyr’s grave.

We think James was the older of the two brothers since his name is always listed first when they appear together in Scripture. I wonder if he was the most zealous and ambitious of the two. I also wonder if it was his zealousness for Christ that caught the attention of King Herod. When he decided to persecute the Church, Herod first chose James to be put to death [Acts 12.2]. After James, Herod chose Peter as his next victim. While we don’t have a record of this in Scripture, it makes me wonder if James was the bigger threat to Herod at the time. If so, it reveals what a powerful ministry he must have had in those days. 

Zeal and ambition are not, in themselves, a bad thing. However, they can become bad when they run ahead of the Holy Spirit. If you are a zealous person, be thankful for it. And please know that we need you to let it rip! Just be careful to to allow the Holy Spirit to temper what you do, what you say, and how you say it. 

One more thing, if you have lost your zeal, slipping into spiritual complacency, you are no longer a threat to Satan’s kingdom. Please repent, and renew your zealousness for the Lord. God can use zealous and ambitious people for His glory.

About that time Herod [Agrippa] the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword. Acts 12.1-2

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