“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.”
Colossians 4:12-13 NKJV
Zeal refers to ardor, strong interest or fervency in the pursuit of something. It connotes the investment of a person in someone else, or in a situation or thing. Zeal is the undeniable product of passion and persistence, not occasional efforts carried out in convenience.
If we consider law students preparing restlessly for their bar exams, they do whatever it takes to pass that exam on the first attempt— coffee-drinking, marathon study schedules, minimal social media presence, etc.
Also, a young man in love would normally rehearse punchlines and take advantage of any given opportunity to express his feelings to his beloved until there is a favorable response.
What these two examples have in common is a display of zeal!
Interestingly, the people of Israel had this same level of interest in the things of God. They devoutly adhered to the tenets of their religion, and passed it down from generation to generation. The only problem however, was how they went about it. Paul describes it as “not according to knowledge.” (Romans 10:1-4) This definitely means that one can have a misguided zeal.
As believers, how then can we ensure that our zeal towards God’s assignment is kept aflame and properly directed?
First, understand the assignment. The believers’ assignment is clearly spelt out in the Scriptures. We have been saved and called by God to ensure that other people become saved as well. (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15) Gathering to fellowship with one another is great, but it should be a means to an end— the saving of souls!
Next, recognize and utilize the work tools provided. We have been given the Holy Spirit to efficiently and fervently execute our mission here on earth. Our responsibility is to stir up this gift within us at all times.
We also have God’s word to illuminate our paths and reveal the truth of the Gospel. It is to be studied. Importantly, we have been blessed with ministry gifts who align us in the direction of purpose. We are to honor them and follow their guidance (Jude 1:20, Ephesians 4:11-12, 1 Corinthians 11:1).
Finally, pray! Our anchor text reveals the zeal that Epaphras had for the saints such that he constantly and fervently prayed for them. (Colossians 4:1-2) We must pray for one another, and for the body of Christ as a whole. Our zeal in prayer and keeping the faith should be discernible (2 Corinthians 9:2).
Listen, God really cares about your zeal. (Titus 2:14) He went to the extent of dying on the cross for you. He expects that same level of seriousness from you in the execution of His assignment. Wake up and get to work!
Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 16:19-31, 2 Timothy 1:1-7, Proverbs 10:17-32, Nehemiah 4-5