When Zealousy Rears Its Ugly Head

Nope, not a misprint. It does say “zealousy”  with  a ‘z’ not a ‘j’. I was meeting with a covenant group with other disciples who are also pastors and friends and I discovered something about myself that wasn’t so pretty. Yes, there are plenty of things that fit that description, but most I am reminded about each morning when I look in the mirror. This one is internal. It’s spiritual, even.

Turns out, I’m a zealot. I never realized this about myself until someone pointed it out to me. Now, they didn’t use the word and they may not have even thought it to be the word. But on the drive back to the church God assured me that this was, indeed, the word – zealot.

According to the dictionary I looked at, a zealot is one who is overly zealous. This, according to my English teachers is not a good definition because it defines a word with a word. So, look up zealous and you find “ardently active”; “intense”; “passionate”. Now put the word overly in front of those and you have a zealot. And, in some areas, that’s me.

I guess I should confess at least part of the story of late, though this is but one example of what happens with me from time-to-time. In recent months I have been on this journey with Jesus regarding my middle-class lifestyle. I am feeling quite convicted about how I live well above the “comfort” line in this world as compared to many who struggle to live up to the “surviving” line. I know that God is asking me to simplify my life and to live into my call as a disciple of Jesus Christ by living more simply so others could simply live (I stole that from somewhere). This conviction is biblical and no doubt a move of the Spirit in my life. That part is all good.

The problem comes when I take this biblical concept of discipleship and start wondering why no one has ever challenged me to live this way. It gets worse as I begin ranting about how I don’t see other Christians, especially clergy, living out this life of frugality and simplicity. Because I have now been enlightened on my journey, AND I know what this aspect of discipleship all about, AND I realize how God offers a greater life when we let go of the life world says is best, NOW I want others to do the same. And the way I say it makes it sound like I want it to happen for them right now.

I become overly zealous. I have allow the spiritual conviction God has laid on my heart to become my soapbox. And, with the help of a friend, I realize it is not because I think this is “THE” answer to being properly holy. The reason I act the zealot is because I want others to go this way with me. It’s a hard road and I really don’t want to go this way alone. I want someone else there to walk with me, to encourage me, or even better, to be an example of how to do it and do it well. I want others to tell me how right this is and how wrong we have all been. It will validate my conviction.

It will also allow me to show passion without really taking a step down that road of greater simplicity. My ranting makes me sound righteous while I avoid being righteous. Zealousy, a word I coined and so I am defining, is the act of speaking loudly and with great conviction in the hopes that other people will not see how little progress you are actually making.

So, there is my confession. Thanks to my friend who was used by God to make this happen. My prayer is that I will be faithful to God’s call on my life and that I will have a testimony to give instead of just a rant to unload. If my zealousy caused you difficulty or even just annoyed you, I am sorry.

Holy high-five to you,


6 responses to “When Zealousy Rears Its Ugly Head

  1. I’ll give you credit, Mike, for at least bringing up the subject. I see our entire nation, myself right there also, so rich it is nearly obscene. It is so appalling when we truly look at how most of we “Christians” live, it can indeed spark a zealous rant. Good luck to you as you try to navigate a way to real truth. As I am fond of word invention, may I commend you on the creation of a quite useful new word.

  2. I’ve been contemplating the lifestyle of clergy myself lately. I don’t think it is a sin to be middle class, however, it is a sin to put my comforts above following Jesus. Perhaps the church is obsessed with financial security in part because her pastors are. I gotta tell you, Mike, I don’t like where this is going…

  3. Pingback: Just Desserts | Mike's Monday Musings & More

  4. It worries me that you think that God used your friend to point out that you are over-zealous, and that on the drive back to church God assured you that you indeed are a zealot. Your friend made a quite obvious observation about you and you simply gave it some thought. I know religion is like smoking: you can do it everywhere, all day. But I think you need to get out of the church more and look around. I hope that this observation of mine helps you out too, my zealous friend.

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