The word "zeal" has practically disappeared from common use. You can still find it in a dictionary and it makes a good word in Scrabble, but think about the last time you heard it in a conversation? Paul here couples "zeal" with the synonym "fervor".
In the rare instances it is used it appears in the word "zealot" which usually has a negative connotation.
The concept of "zeal" is expressed in the word "passion" these days. So let's talk about passion since this verse demands that you and I are responsible for fueling the spiritual passion for God. It is expected to be a constant in our lives.
If we were to be honest we would admit the place we most often see passion is in regard to sports teams. I confess to being passionate about the Chicago Bears and the Virginia Tech Hokies.
That begs two questions, "what does passion look like" and "why does it express itself in this form"?
My passion for these two football teams shows in the fact that I think about them most every day. Their websites are on my favorites tab and I always look for the latest news on them. My passion is shown in how I order my priorities around the during Satudays and Sundays in the Fall. When the games are on I am mentally and emotionally engaged in them. I get excited by a big play and aggravated by the bad plays. I care what happens to my teams from the opening kickoff until the final play! For those three hours that game is the center of my universe. A win by either team lifts my week-end. If they both win it is real uplifting! When one or both lose it casts a pall over the next few days.
So, why is it so easy to maintain my passion for football and so difficult to "keep my spiritual fervor"?
Here's a thought from one of my mentors, Rush Limbaugh. El Rushbo says that we are passionate about sports teams because we can become totally engaged with our favorite team and gain a sense of significance, satisfaction, belonging, entertainment and pleasant diversion without it costing us anything. Granted, if you buy a ticket and pay for parking and food to the event or set aside a day to attend the event, that can be costly. But in terms of commitment, the cost is minimal! Passion over sports teams has a high cost to benefit factor.
On the other hand, commitment to Christ costs you much (everything, in fact) and the biggest rewards are delayed. You can switch on the TV or click on their website and see the Bears or Hokies, but you open the Bible and you see words - lots of words. It takes much more commitment to get passionate and stay passionate about an invisible concept than a tangible team.
Would you like to be as passionate about your faith as you are about your football? If not, you can check out here. But if you do, you are closer than you think.
Surrender to the "team Spirit".
Become as committed to faith as you are to football.
Devote the same amount of time as you do to God as to your team - reading, watching, and thinking about them.
Follow Christ as enthusiastically, consistently and regularly as you do your team.
Talk about your faith as much as you do your football team.
Invest at least as much time and energy on your faith as you do on your football. Make it a time priority as your football games. Hang out with faith "fans" like you hang out football fans.
If you know how to fuel your passion for the Bears, Redskins, Ravens, Hokies or 'Hoos, you have a foundation for becoming a passionate follower of Christ. It may just cost you more - but the benefits are out of this world!