Definition: Zealous is the adjective of zeal and means to be ardently devoted, fervent, and enthusiastic on behalf of someone or something. Zeal is often used in a religious sense, meaning devotion to God or another religious cause, like being a missionary.
1 Kings 19:5-11 (NIV)
Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord , for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord , but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.
In this passage, Elijah declares that he is zealous for the Lord and has done what the Lord wanted him to do. But look at the word zealous. It means “to be warmly engaged or ardently devoted to someone or something.” When we break that word down a little more, we get the word zeal. In scripture, zeal most often means to be devoted to God.
So Elijah was devoted to the work the of the Lord.
I remember there was a time back when I was in high school that I was so on fire to preach. I got the opportunity to do it a couple of times and in those couple times, full of zeal, I was devoted to see lives changed in the church I was at. In that time though, I got lost and thought I could take a short cut, only to find out it was the wrong idea to do, so I ran from what God had in store for me. To this day now I am rekindling that zeal – that devotion to the Lord – as I did before to fullfil that which he had placed before me.
The thing with Elijah is that yes, he was zealous for the Lord, but he ran from one person who tried to kill him. So I leave you with this question to think about! What was the last thing you were zealous for? Was the last thing you were devoted to something other than the Lord? What was the last thing you were devoted to but ran away from? Think about it!
for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.
Psalm 69:9 (NIV)