Self-serving Zeal

2 Kings 10:16
       Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): This is commonly taken as not well said by Jehu, and as giving cause to suspect that his heart was not right with God in what he did; that the zeal he pretended for the Lord was really zeal for himself and his own advancement.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): Zeal and forwardness in the cause of God, and for the reformation of His worship, will not clear a man from the danger of hypocrisy. Jehu was a zealous reformer, and yet but a painted sepulchre.

ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): A man may burn with zeal, as Jehu did, and yet have little or no true love to God, or affection for the souls of men.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Zeal needs to be pure, too; such a fervent affection had need be right, for since it makes men so active and resolute, certainly it should go upon clear grounds. But why must we have pure zeal? Because there is a false zeal, and a self-seeking zeal, which men have while they pretend much love to God and good of souls, but are really hunting after their own interest: Galatians 4:17, They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you that ye might affect them; that is, they sought to rend their affections from Paul, and from their faithful pastors, that they might affect them.

MATTHEW HENRY: Another part of their character was that they were men of a party spirit, and who had no further zeal for the law than as it subserved their carnal and selfish designs; for they desired to have these Christians circumcised, that they might glory in their flesh, verse 13―that they might say they had gained them over to their side, and made proselytes of them, of which they carried the mark in their flesh. And thus, while they pretended to promote religion, they were the greatest enemies of it; for nothing has been more destructive to the interest of religion than men-siding and party-making.

THOMAS MANTON: So he tells us, Philippians 1:15, Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife. There may be a zeal that comes merely out of envy and strife; [thus also] Jehu could say, Come, see my zeal for the Lord.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): A false heart calls others to witness his zeal for God. It is the trick of the hypocrite to strain himself to the utmost in duty when he hath spectators, and to be careless alone.

JOHN FLAVEL: In the year 1549, the Reformation grew so much in reputation, even among the nobles and gentry in Germany, that many of them caused these five letters ‘VDMIT’―being the initial letters of these [Latin] words, Verebum Domini manet in ternum―The word of the Lord abideth for ever―to be wrought, or embroidered, or set in plates, some on their cloaks, and others upon the sleeves of their garments; to shew to all the world that forsaking Popish traditions, they would now cleave to the pure doctrine and discipline of the eternal Word. And no doubt they would have been as good as their word, if what was embroidered on their cloaks, had been engraven on their hearts; but, “Come, see my zeal” mars all.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): We ought not to court publicity for our virtue, or notoriety for our zeal; but, at the same time, it is a sin to be always seeking to hide that which God has bestowed upon us for the good of others. A Christian is not be a village in a valley, but “a city set upon a hill;” he is not to be a candle under a bushel, but a candle in a candlestick, giving light to all.

THOMAS MANTON: We should mark still what spirit inflames the zeal that we have…Let us speak of the object of zeal. In three things God’s interest lies in the world―His truth, His worship, and His servants. Now it is not enough to have zeal that we do not oppose any of these, but they must be tenderly regarded and looked after, and we must be affected with these things as we would with our own concernments. When wrongs are offered to any of these, either to God’s truth, His worship, or His servants, they must go more nearly to our hearts than any personal injuries done to ourselves. What we cannot remedy we must mourn for.
      All these three concur in Elijah’s speech, 1 Kings 19:10―I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts; there is his zeal. Why? For the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant; there is His truth perverted: they have thrown down thy altars; there is His worship overturned: they have slain thy prophets with the sword; there His servants are wronged. So that zeal mainly is concerned when God suffers loss in any of these things. If His truth be perverted, His worship overturned, His servants be despitefully used, vexed, and grieved, then zeal presently shows itself in opposing these things, or in grieving for them…The true cause of holy zeal is love to God and what belongs to God.

MATTHEW HENRY: When our own private interests happen to run in the same channel with those of the public, we are apt to think ourselves zealous for the Lord of hosts, when really we are only zealous for our own wealth, credit, ease, and safety, and seek our own things, under colour of seeking the things of Christ; we have therefore need to distinguish upon our principles.

C. H. SPURGEON: You are not to do good that you may have honour as an industrious and energetic community, but that glory may be given to Jesus, to whom you belong. “All for Jesus,” is to be our motto. No one among us may dare to live unto himself, even in the refined way in which many are doing it, who even try to win souls that they may have the credit of being zealous and successful. We may so far degenerate as even to attempt to glorify Christ that we may have the credit of glorifying Him. It will not do. We must be truly, thoroughly, really living for Jesus.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Natural temperament may very well make a man fervent and zealous. A man may be born with an energetic nature and a fervent enthusiastic spirit—some of us have to be more careful at this point than others.

WILLIAM GURNALL: He will have little thanks for his zeal that is fervent in spirit, but serving himself with it, and not the Lord.


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