It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. Galatians 4:18 (NIV).
People will often get burned out on faith. It isn’t that Jesus changes, or even that their faith or feelings change (though that can happen). Instead, top-of-the-mountain moments can burn you out, leave you emotionally and physically drained.
My wife just attended our church’s annual women’s retreat. The ladies who plan it are on truly fire for the Lord. They’re eager, highly motivated, honest, upright and righteous, and very much into their Word. When you meet one of these women, you want to have the kind of faith they have. It’s contagious.
And, if you aren’t careful, it can also burn you out. It’s not unlike adding a lot of kindling to a fire. You get a short, intense flare-up that burns hot. But, if you aren’t careful, it quickly burns out. Our faith can be that fire; indeed, any kind of human activity can be like that fire. It requires tending, nurturing, someone to take care of it. You carefully feed it, not binging or piling on the fuel. I hope the women who sponsored the retreat last weekend remember that; I believe they do.
Yet there are times when it’s proper to be zealous, to be passionate. The people of Galatia were relatively new to faith, and were eager, wanting to do anything they could to give praise and grow what they believed. That unwittingly included being taken in by Judaizers who either did not understand the implications of their own demands, or didn’t care. It isn’t surprising that the recent converts would have been confused, maybe even barrel-rolled by ‘authorities’ who sounded like they knew more. That kind of thing happens to us, too.
It would have quickly burned them out. That’s part of what made the Old Testament worship and the Judaic codes exhausting. It was impossible to keep up with them; nobody could keep God’s law perfectly, and there came to be Jewish authorities who would ‘prosecute’ you for your failings. No wonder people would fall away from the faith. That kind of thing also happens to us.
When it happens, the best thing to do is check it out for yourself. Do what the church ladies do and get into the Word. Look it up on your own. Read deeply and ponder what you read. Then take it to God in prayer, not just at the dinner table or on Sunday morning. Seek to be re-energized by what Jesus said in the Word He left us, then move forward in wherever He takes you. It’ll allow you to fire up your passions accordingly while tempering other things in moderation.
For further reading: Galatians 4:19
Father, energize me in the Words of Your Bible. Help me to seek comfort, strength, and fuel there.
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