1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:1–3, NKJV)
Religious zeal can be misinterpreted as divine approval. The Jews of Paul’s day were trusting in the works of the law of Moses to save them (Romans 2:17-24; 3:20, 27-28). Not a few Jewish Christians were being influenced to demand Gentiles keep the law of Moses to be saved (Acts 15:1, 5, 23-24). The epistle to the Romans explains the futility of the Jewish attempt to be saved by the law of Moses, and to force it on the Gentiles. Paul said trying to be saved by the law of Moses amounted to establishing their own righteousness instead of submitting to the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:3; 1:16-17; Galatians 2:16). Paul desired the salvation of the Jews, but their zeal without knowledge would not save them. Zeal does not establish God’s approval, faithfully doing the Father does (Matthew 7:21-23). Zeal is not a substitute for knowing God’s will. Zealous ignorance is removed only when a humble heart hears the word of God and obeys it in faith (Matthew 7:24-27; Acts 3:17-19). Learn God’s will and have the faith to obey it to be saved from your sins (Acts 4:12; 10:34-35).
18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, 19 serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 20 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house,” (Acts 20:18–20, NKJV)
These words were spoken by the apostle Paul to the elders of the church of Ephesus (Acts 20:17). He had lived among them for three years (verse 31). His service to the Lord was marked by humility and zealous endurance, even while the Jews of that city plotted against him (Acts 19:8-9). In spite of this, Paul continued to courageously proclaimed the gospel of Christ. He understood what we must also perceive, namely, that the gospel saves sinners and protects Christians from the enemies of the faith. This is why we seek to declare the gospel publicly and privately. The gospel is God’s power to save the lost and equip the saved to do God’s work (Rom. 1:16; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Nothing should be held back; It must all be preached. Avail yourself of every opportunity to teach and to be taught God’s word. It helps you serve God “with all humility” and with the zealous courage of faith.
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8, NKJV)
Too often we have an attitude that says, “Here am I…send someone else!” Isaiah’s ready faith to volunteer to speak for God to His wayward people arouses our zeal to do the same. We must be ready and willing to accomplish God’s purposes. You can have this attitude in your marriage, devoting yourself to be a loving husband or a respectful wife. Like Isaiah, if you are sent to preach the word of God, do so with diligent, enduring faith. If you lead God’s people as an elder, faithfully attend to your stewardship to the glory of God. God wants willing servants. Devote yourself to greater zeal in the Lord’s service. Isaiah is a great example to follow.