"Zeal in religion is a burning desire to please God, to do His will, and to advance His glory in the world in every possible way. It is a desire which no man feels by nature-which the Spirit puts in the heart of every believer when he is converted-but which some believers feel so much more strongly than others that they alone deserve to be called 'zealous' men...A zealous man in religion is pre-eminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, thorough-going, whole-hearted, fervent in spirit. He only sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing; and that one thing is to please God. Whether he lives, or whether he dies-whether he has health, or whether he has sickness-whether he is rich, or whether he is poor-whether he pleases man, or whether he gives offense-whether he is thought wise, or whether he is thought foolish-whether he gets blame, or whether he gets praise-whether he gets honour, or whether he gets shame-for all this the zealous man cares nothing at all. He burns for one thing; and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God's glory. If he is consumed in the very burning, he cares not for it-he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn; and if consumed in burning, he has but done the work for which God appointed him. Such a one will always find a sphere for his zeal. If he cannot preach, work, and give money, he will cry, and sigh, and pray...If he cannot fight in the valley with Joshua, he will do the work of Moses, Aaron, and Hur, on the hill (Exodus 19:9-13). If he is cut off from working himself, he will give the Lord no rest till help is raised up from another quarter and the work is done. This is what I mean when I speak of 'zeal' in religion." ~ Bishop J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion, p. 130
Do those words touch your heart? Making it leap with excitment towards the notion of being consumed by God so much that all of our motivations, all of our heart's intentions, are devoted with a single-mindedness towards bringing him glory and honor and praise? Towards pleasing Him?
I have to say, it touched mine! I thirst to know God with all of my heart that sometimes it aches. I want to experience Him with all that He will allow my senses to endure. But do I want to please Him? Do I want to bring Him glory? I do...but sometimes I think my search for theological answers and to understand facets of His character and glimpses of His truth overshadow or even come before a simple desire to please Him and bring Him honor.
God wants us to get to know Him. He wants us to reach out with our hearts, our minds, our souls, towards Him and develop strong relationships that don't quake though the whole world might tremble and shake around us. But, from what this quote says, our supreme desire, our only desire really, should be to please Him. And that, really, when one contemplates it, makes sense. For if we wish to please Him, if that is our ultimate motivation, than naturally all other things will fall into place-the knowing and experiencing Him parts.
I want to have a heart zealous for God! Unendingly zealous! Do you? I pray so. It might be a good prayer, for all of us really to pray- that we might cultivate a heart that puts God first and puts the focus of our intentions and the motivations of our hearts in pleasing Him above all other things. If we are honest with ourselves, I really don't think anyone can have a perfectly zealous heart for God...I mean, it seems certainly a process, an unending one at that. The world is full of tempations, our hearts are permeable enough that influences that steal our focus from God, no matter how sincere we might be towards Him, invade from time to time. So, it would seem natural that prayer and communion with God would be an essential thing in sustaining a heart of zeal towards God.
Let's pray :)
We praise you for the abundant blessings that you have given us in our lives. We may have to endure trials, suffering and pain but your love and the blessed assurance that you give our souls surpasses all temporary things we might have to endure. You have given us your Son, and His innocent blood was shed for our sins, wiping away all the mistakes, all the blunders that our sinful hearts create clean if only we reach towards Him with souls asking for forgiveness. Thank you. Thank you for your unending mercy, for your gift of divine Grace.
Forgive us for not always guarding our hearts, keeping them from the temptations that creep in, stealing our focus from you God. Create in us hearts that are single-mindedly focused on pleasing you.On bringing you praise and honor and glory. Create in us lives that are living testimonies to the power, wonder and love of your Spirit. Through your Spirit, help us advance your love, your compassion, your gentleness, your patience, to a world of suffering, to those who don't yet know you. Let us not care what the world things of our fervent zeal towards you. Let us not care that the world might call some of our words and actions to please you, foolish. For The things of God are foolish to those that don't yet know Him. Let us not care what the world thinks but let our hearts burn with an all-consuming fire of desire to please you. Direct our hearts, our minds and our actions to bring about your will and to bless others and bless your Holy name.
In the name of Jesus,