Words of Life

There’s something to be said for zeal.

Nehemiah 13:

  • There’s something to be said for zeal. I say this because it is clear in this final chapter, and throughout the book, that Nehemiah is zealous for the honor and renown of the LORD. Still, in my heart, I feel like his rightly placed zeal may have been wrongly implemented. This is ok. For, the book is a record of (a) historic event(s), not a prescription for mandated behaviors. Here, Nehemiah expels ALL foreigners for the historic crimes of a few (vs. 1-3), he renders homeless the careless and/or ignorant service of some priests (vs. 6-8), he threatens violence to merchants accustomed to earning their wages in ways that are disruptive to the Sabbath practice (vs. 21-22), and executes physical violence on family heads who disobediently (most likely ignorantly) married women they should not have. (vs. 23-25)
  • Is it possible to have a zeal for all the right reasons and in all the right categories, yet proceed to act this zeal out in ways that are entirely in conflict with the heart of God? YES! Of course! We are sinners; we have been since birth and will be until we receive our glorified bodies. (Philippians 3:2) It is possible for me to simultaneously be impressed by one’s commitment to God’s ways and at the same time be uneasy with their oppressive methods of pursuing God’s ways.

LORD, I am simple-minded. I am timid when boldness is required and inflict guilt when mercy is needed. I rarely know what posture is best suited for an occasion. Holy Spirit, please consume me to the point of overcoming me. Have mercy and forgive me when my zeal is misguided and hurtful.

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