When you read about Paul, Peter, Philip and others in the book of Acts, you see how their lives were marked by passion. They were full of zeal, enthusiasm and excitement, red-hot in following the Lord. Nothing could stop them.
I believe the Lord desires for us to be the same way today. Even Jesus had a direct purpose and a goal. He pressed onward toward Jerusalem with an iron will, focused on what His Father required of Him. And so must we—but not at the expense of wisdom. As somebody once said, “We can become so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good.” We need to be wise in our zeal. Sometimes we need to slow down, be sensitive and listen. In all His zeal, Jesus still took time to simply listen to the woman at the well and play with the children.
One time when I came home from the office, Gisela was crying about something going on at the house. I don’t remember exactly what it was that was bothering her. I automatically started quoting Bible verses and preaching to her, thinking that was what she needed to hear. She stopped me in mid-sentence, saying, “Can you please stop? I can preach all those sermons and quote all those Bible verses too. I just want you to listen.” In my enthusiasm and zeal, I had completely missed what she needed. There was no wisdom in that.
There are many different ways that zeal without wisdom can manifest. Numerous times, women have come to me asking for prayer for their unsaved husband. They explain the strife and incredible pain they live with, telling me all the ways they have tried to convert their loved one, but to no avail. Often, this zeal takes a turn, and soon the wife starts criticizing, putting down and pointing out all the husband’s wrong ways. In turn, the husband is driven even further from the Gospel than he was before. And further from his wife.
For more reading about this subject, please read Gospel for Asia’s article, The Wise Way to Handle Zeal.