“It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” -Proverbs 19:2
In Hebrew, zeal is transliterated as Qinah, which means ardor. It is the burning heat, intense devotion, passion, fervent enthusiasm, eagerness and jealousy, the fuel that propels us to action. Zeal can either energize us toward great exploits or drive us to crash and burn needlessly. The choice is ours.
Godly zeal is harnessed. It is purposed, focused, on target and on task. Nothing is wasted. It is motivation that accomplishes much.
Godly zeal incorporates wisdom and diligence. It is informed and prepared. Mixed with faith, God’s truths and knowledge, it doesn’t give up after the honeymoon phase of a relationship or an assigned project matures to temperance.
Godly zeal is not just an emotional high, although our emotions are purposefully affected euphorically as a byproduct of the Holy Spirit igniting our spirit—on purpose—to cause us to move in the direction of and at the speed for the plan God has for us.
Godly zeal is balanced. It does not overrun wisdom. It can run dry in us if we do not spend enough dedicated time with God, in His presence. Over-tasking can cause us to distance ourselves from the vine; it can cause us to feel stress; it can drain our joy and basically suck the life out of us and our assignment, causing us to give up and even dislike the assignment.
Godly zeal is prioritized. It keeps God first, and assigned relationships and projects second. It is not an idol or ignorant or immature. It does not run ahead of God. Rather it is synergistic with God’s plan, purpose and timing and trusts God with child-like faith to step into the unknown like Abraham, sequence by sequence.
Godly zeal is dedicated. It is intentional. It helps us see divine assignments through. It does not entertain fear.
Godly zeal is rooted in righteous love. It is reverential and honoring to God. Godly zeal put to action can be a form of worship unto the Lord.
All of these lessons, for me, were learned and led by the Holy Spirit.
I recall when the Lord instructed me to produce our first Women’s Expo. He gave me a simple and clear instruction, “Do a women’s event, and call it an expo.” My immediate response was the only response, “Yes, Lord,” even though I didn’t have a clue at the time of how to produce a Women’s Expo. God will always offer us more than we currently know. In so doing, He creates a greater awareness of dependence upon Him.
Having planned few events throughout my life, I wasn’t sure at the outset how to accomplish what God wanted, but I knew He had placed a gift of event planning in me. Still, I proceeded with caution and prayed, “I want two things, Lord: I want it to be all about You; and I want you to bring Your finest people alongside me. Show me how to do this.” I believe the Holy Spirit inspired me to pray these words. God honors and exalts humbleness, and I knew this was His vision. It soon became mine too, as I intentionally chose to sync up with Him in this area.
Two weeks after His initial instruction, a ministry leader called me and asked me to help coordinate a women’s conference. I knew this was my training ground.
Sure enough, this ministry leader let me do much, including exhibiting, coordinating a panel and speaking in a main session. God is always faithful to give us just what we need when we need it to prepare us for the next phase.
Next, came a time when I felt overwhelming zeal. In my immaturity, I allowed the zeal to propel me to over-tasking. But God in His grace and mercy, quickly led me into temperance. In so doing, He trained me on the job.
He showed me a vision of a racehorse in a stall, at the gate. The racehorse represented me. When I saw the racehorse, I sensed anxiety. I had a sense of wanting to run out the gate, to run free, full throttle, to get going in the race. But God kept the gate closed.
God was showing me that it wasn’t time to run. It was time to wait, to be obedient to His timing and ways all along the journey, to not lean upon my own (limited) understanding. I also sensed the time to run was very near. So I chose to wait.
As time passed, the more I thought about all I had to do to accomplish His task, the more anxiety I felt. After awhile, I exhausted myself and then turned to God and laid every burden down. I learned that as I was waiting on God, He was waiting on me.
Only after that did God open the gate.
He showed me another vision of the racehorse, now fully dressed with a harness and a saddle. I saw the gate swing open, and I saw the words “Run, Run, Run!” I saw the racehorse blast out the gate. And there was a jockey mounted on the her back. That jockey represented God. The jockey controls the racehorse’s speed and direction, if the horse submits to the jockey.
And the racehorse ran as fast as she could towards victory with God at her reigns.
I have never forgotten this lesson of temperance and dependency upon God in the area of zeal.
Unbridled zeal can be dangerous. Imagine a big horse clomping all over a garden of flowers or a wild mustang running furiously free but never accomplishing anything. Remember, it’s the bridle and the bit that controls, channels, focuses horsepower into purposeful endeavors for the Lord.
What are you zealous for? Have you allowed the Lord to temper the zeal He placed in you? Are you living life on purpose and accomplishing much? Or do you expend lots of energy and accomplish little? Are you on task with God?