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Blinding Zeal

Blinding Zeal

Words of Faith 6-5-19

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Galatians 4

       [17] Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you [from us], so that you may be zealous for them. [18] It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you. [19] My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, [20] how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!

 

       The legalists had come through these towns with burning passion appealing to the Galatians with righteous sounding demands that they submit to the requirements of Jewish Law.  The ancient world called this zeal

       The word Paul used means to have hot feelings either for or against.  Zeal described a burning feeling related to jealousy, desire or even covetousness, but could be felt in a positive way about the right sort of things.

        But zeal is not always about good things.  If the purpose of those "heated feelings" is not good, zealousness can run amok.  Paul certainly knew about this!  He had zealously persecuted the church until the day when Jesus Himself tossed Paul off a horse and temporarily blinded him to get his attention (Acts 9). 

         The truth is that we can be blinded by zeal just as Paul was back when his name was Saul.  We can also be blinded and deceived by the zeal of others.  A preacher can bring a heated and clever message but still be quite wrong in terms of the real truth. As believers, we can become so passionate in our opinions that we miss the voice of God's leading entirely.  This is the danger of zeal.

         Paul warned the Galatians that it was not enough simply to recite the correct truths when he was with them and then act another way in his absence.  Truth is always the truth, or it is not true at all.  It is not enough to quote the right scriptures while in church but turn around act in an entirely different way in the parking lot.

        Paul experienced all this so personally that he felt as if he was once again in the pains of childbirth for these Galatian believers!  He longed to come in person once again to resolve these difficult feelings and make his tone not so harsh.  These brothers and sisters were so very dear to him as spiritual children, but now Paul was "at a loss" as far as understanding their attitudes and actions.

       Behind the specifics of this situation in Galatia lies the question, Am I more drawn to the truth, or to the heat of an appeal?  Am I more impressed by form or substance?  Am I swayed by impassioned arguments or by the truth of God's Word?  Am I drawn to false doctrine or practices simply because it is packaged in a way that is moving or emotional? Paul's interaction with the Galatian believers highlights the vital importance of knowing God's Word and carefully seeking the truth.  What are we to do?

        A powerful guide is recorded by Luke, the writer of Acts, who described one group of people in Berea in a powerful way, "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11). 

        We also should receive the message of God from a trusted communicator, but then examine the Scriptures carefully every day to be sure of the truth.  Truth is more important than the appeal of passion.  Substance is always more important that form.

      

       Father God, keep me free of blinding zeal.  Keep me from being blinded by my own zeal or by the zeal of others.  Help me to see that the heat of an argument does not indicate its truth.  Keep my eye focused upon You and keep my heart anchored in the truth of Your Word.  In Jesus' Name. 

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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, and our website, and our church app, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.  

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