On Christian Zeal: Part 5

2 Jul

Thinking

Christian zeal begins with self-examination.

John Calvin begins his work, Institutes of the Christian Religion, with these words: “Nearly all wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.” As we come to recognize our finitude, failings, and foolishness–or as Calvin puts it, our “feeling of our own ignorance, vanity, poverty, infirmity”–we begin to recognize that we must look outside ourselves for truth, wisdom, worth, wealth, hope, and healing.

In a nutshell, as we recognize our sinful, condemned state, and all of its implications, we are driven to know God, to know His ways and His works, and ultimately, the Gospel.

The starting point for Christian zeal–a fervent support of, trust in, and a willingness to act, in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ–is a recognition of the truth of one’s self, both as a sinner in need of grace, and a saint who has received such grace (and is still daily in need of it).  We need to examine our hearts.  We need to examine how we speak to others, how we act towards our family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors, and our motivations for such actions.

Why?  Two reasons.  First, as we examine ourselves, we daily come to recognize our need for God’s grace through Christ.  Examining ourselves pushes us towards greater obedience to our calling in Christ, working in the power of the Holy Spirit to see transformation in our lives.  Second, self-examination leads to a better understanding of human nature, and the necessity all people to receive the Gospel.  Self-examination leads us to a greater sense of compassion to the lost around us, fuels our efforts to serve our neighbors both physically and spiritually, and keeps us persistent in such tasks.

So, before all the busyness of Christian zeal, examine yourself.

Photo credit: ~almumen, and can be found at almumen.deviantart.com

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