«For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge» (Romans 10:2).
ZEAL (NOT TO BE CONFUSED with jealousy) is a refocused, devoted, and enthusiastic desire for something. «Zeal is a neutral quality and can be the greatest of vices. What determines its character is the object to which it is addressed»(J. Murray).
God is jealous in the sense that He expects exclusive worship, for He always desires the welfare of His children and for nothing to arise among them that interrupts that blessing. Thus, the Bible describes zeal asthe emotion that arises from violating that right to exclusivityin the same way that a spouse expects reciprocal faithfulness from the other. Paul told the Corinthians that he was jealous of them with godly jealousy (2 Cor. 11:2); but he told the Romans that their zeal was «not according to knowledge» (Rom. 10:2).
Nevertheless, inappropriate and misdirected zeal leads to fanaticism. «Zeal is like fire: it is one of the best servants in the chimney, but it is one of the worst tyrants outside the chimney. Zeal within knowledge and wisdom, placed in the right place, is a chosen servant for Christ and his saints, but zeal that is not muzzled by wisdom and knowledge is the direct path to undoing everything and turning it into hell»(Thomas Brooks).
Fanaticism is an exaggerated, obsessive, intolerant, and uncompromising attitude. «Fanaticism is the son off false zeal and superstition, the father of intolerance and persecution; it is very different from piety, although some people enjoy confusing them« (John Fletcher).
Fanatics considers themselves enlightened, examples, and authorities. Their impressions and opinions are absolute. They have everything to teach and nothing to learn. feel that they should correct everyone and not be corrected by anyone.
We do not need fanatics, but there is one thing we do need: «It is earnest Christian zeal that is wanted—a zeal that will be manifested by doing something. All must now work for themselves, and when they have Jesus in their hearts they will confess Him to others. No more could a soul who possesses Christ be hindered from confessing Him than could the waters of Niagara be stopped from flowing over the falls» (Testimony Treasures, vol. l, p. 236).
Through Niagara Falls can flow, on average, about 110 thousand cubic meters of water per minute, which would allow us to fill 2.5 million one-liter bottles. It is easier to prevent these waters from falling than to stop someone who has Jesus from confessing Him.
Let us show Jesus, without fanaticism by speaking and acting humbly according to the true knowledge of the Word.May our prayer be: «Lord, make us zealous for Your cause and cleanse it of fall fanaticism.»