by Kelly Crawford
Have you ever been called a zealot? Was it meant as a compliment or an insult?

I recently stumbled across another blog where a Christian was criticizing me for being a zealot. What a compliment!

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a real mediocre person. Not that I don’t recognize the need for mediocrity in some situations, but I struggle with “walking in the middle.” Sometimes that can be bad, but frankly, I think the Christian community could use a little more zeal.

I believe Christ was crucified for being a zealot. And I know that we are asked in Scripture to be zealous.

Zeal is not a common characteristic of our Christian culture. Zeal is, well “off-balanced” in most people’s estimation. “You can’t be extreme and culturally relevant at the same time.” Or can you…what do you think?

Zeal gets in the way of tolerance. Zeal demands being absolutely convinced of truth; which demands a recognition of right and wrong, good and evil, truth and lie. Not a popular place.

Zeal is what gave the early Christians their lives; it is also what took them. Men, women and children who loved God so deeply, and lived with such conviction, not even torturous death could sway them.

What does it mean to be a zealous Christian? What things are we to be zealous for?

Good works.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation to all men teaches us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age….Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. let no one despise you.” Titus 2:11-15

Good things.

“But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always…” Galatians 4:18

God and His righteousness.

“…they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” Romans 10:2,3

For the sake of zeal.

“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth….As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” Revelation 3:15, 16, 19

And boy do David’s words ring with me…”My zeal has consumed me, because my enemies have forgotten your words….give me understanding, and I shall live.” Psalm 119:139,144

Be zealous, dear ones! Zealous for God, zealous for righteousness, zealous as a wife, zealous as a mother, as a friend, as a follower of Christ.

Let zeal identify you. No, the world will not know you–Jesus promised it. In fact, He said they would hate you. He knew because they hated Him. And sometimes “the world” hits a lot closer to home than just a stranger out there somewhere. It means those who have adopted the world’s methods won’t understand you. It may be some in your own family. Are you OK with that?

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5intow July 28, 2008 - 4:55 pm

I agree, you are a zealot, and I hope that someone might label me as such some day as well. I strive to be zealous for the things that God is zealous for. Thanks for the encouragement.

Mommy Reg July 28, 2008 - 5:48 pm

Being zealous means you have reckless abandon for Christ. To be recklessly abandoned for Christ is to be completely surrendered to Christ without restraint, inhibitions, or moderation and to be completely unconcerned about, and at total peace about the consequences of what could happen. God calls us to be either hot or cold and not lukewarm. He will actually vomit those who are lukewarm out of his mouth. So… be zealous in the Lord.

Anonymous July 28, 2008 - 5:56 pm

I have been reading some post you have created recently, and I can no longer hold back my feelings. This is a LONG post, and I pray that you will read it and gleam something GOOD from it. I am far from being wise or a scholar. I am a sinner just like everyone else. I do this as a sharing of faith and not mere ridicule. Hopefully, you will see it this way. If not, I apologize.

This post you have created, along with others I have been reading from time to time remind me of a passages from Philippians chapter 3:

“Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship by the spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Jesus Christ has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort.” (Phil 3:2-4, NLT)

Those who are truly saved, i.e., have salvation are not ones who simply follow The Law (e.g., being circumcised), but it’s the ones who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, we rely on Christ and not our own understanding (e.g., our human effort). It seems to me that you are putting much confidence in yourself, i.e., your own efforts, yet we are told, as Christians, to rely on Christ.

Your attitude sounds like Paul’s when he was also in this state of mind:

“I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin-a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who DEMANDED THE STRICTEST OBEDIENCE to the Jewish LAW. I was so ZEALOUS that I HARSHLY PERSECUTED THE CHURCH. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.” (Phil 3:5-6, NLT)

Paul at this time thought quite highly of himself because he felt he was in an elite group (e.g., a member of the Pharisees). He obeyed all the strict laws and felt he was quite righteous for doing so. He even felt a sense of ZEALOUSNESS for harshly persecuting others – sound familiar?

However, I do pray that you will learn to put more of your faith in Christ than in laws established by man like Paul did long ago:

“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus as my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I NO LONGER COUNT ON MY OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS THROUGH OBEYING THE LAW; rather, I BECOME RIGHTEOUS THROUGH FATIH IN CHRIST. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” (Phil 3: 7-9, NLT)

I know you will not agree with me. The scriptures tell us in Matthew 10:21-22 that others will hate those who are followers of Christ.

I know that you will think that I am just another “Christian in the mainstream world gone astray.” Paul even warned the Ephesian elders of others trying to “rise up” and lead them astray from the truth (See Acts 20:28-31).

You may not even understand what I am trying to say (See 1 Corinthians 2:10-14).

But God has told me not to be afraid to voice the truth. By doing so, He will acknowledge me in heaven (See Matthew 10:26-33).

And although we may be considered “enemies” because we don’t agree, we both need to remember that God has called us to love not only our friends, but our enemies (See Matthew 5:43-48).

So, I leave you with this prayer: (from Psalm 25:4-7, NLT)

“Show Kelly the right path, O Lord; point out the road for her to follow. Lead her by your truths and teach her, for you are the God who saves her. May she put her trust and hope in you all day long. Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love towards her, which you have shown from long ages past. Do not remember the rebellious sins of her youth. Remember her in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord.” Amen.

Mrs. F

Word Warrior July 28, 2008 - 6:43 pm

Mrs. F.

I’m trying to understand your intent.

Do you really believe I trust in the law instead of Christ’s blood for my salvation? It’s a shame if you do, because that is not true!

You say I sound like Paul’s former self in this post…all I’ve done in this post is quote straight from the Bible. (Paul’s zeal was for the wrong things; Christ calls us to a new zeal ???) It’s a sad place when Christians can turn Scripture quoting into something offensive.

I believe the Bible teaches that a Christian is saved ONLY by grace;and because of the indescribable gift of this grace, we are thereafter to be zealous for the things of God…pursing good works, thirsting after righteousness and becoming more and more holy. (As Paul himself stated after being saved.)

This is the gospel that I find in my Bible; if you adhere to any other, we’re not following the same faith.

I am trying to be open to rebuke. Could you make yourself a little more clear, giving specific examples of where I have strayed from the doctrines of Scripture?

Rachel July 28, 2008 - 6:48 pm

Mrs. F.
Wow,that is harsh. And I would have to say way off the mark. Perhaps if Kelli were saying the way to salvation is through the things she does, then yes, you are right. But, she has never, ever indicated that her salvation comes from her works.

It is because of her salvation that she is called to good works, and being a zealot.

Order is very important here, and I do believe you have her’s mixed up.


Rachel July 28, 2008 - 6:51 pm

Sorry Kelli for jumping in so quickly to your defense. Apparently we were composing responses at the same time. And yours is put together beautifully. I love seeing your zeal for Christ and the things He loves.


The Henderson Family July 28, 2008 - 9:21 pm

Mrs. F.
Wow!! Are you leaving any room for the process of sanctification here? It almost sounds like you are saying once you are saved by grace you are not allowed to allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify you and convict you to live a more holy life in Christ. You did not mention one verse about be holy because I am holy.

Before being saved I was a very worldly woman. I was corporate exec. who lived only for self. After being saved I was convicted over a period of time to change my life in many different ways. Today my views and that of my family are very close to Kelli’s.

Are you saying that by adopting a more conservative lifestyle I have put my hope in my good works? Are you saying that all who believe that the Bible calls men to be heads of households and women to be keepers at home are legalist?

What about the fact that I along with my daughters have chosen to wear skirts and dresses only, are you saying that means we feel we are saved by this practice?

Please explain if not here on this blog then email me personally. My email addy can be found on my blog. I really do not understand how you can make these blanket statements about someone’s salvation based on orthoproxy.

So tell me am I only saved if I believe the way you believe, anything more and I am a legalistic Pharisee!!! Am I not supposed to strive to be holy as my Savior is holy!!! Be careful what you say Mrs. F. or please explain if I am not understanding something!!

Mrs. Henderson

Katherine July 28, 2008 - 10:22 pm

The Henderson Family said:
“Wow!! Are you leaving any room for the process of sanctification here? It almost sounds like you are saying once you are saved by grace you are not allowed to allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify you and convict you to live a more holy life in Christ. You did not mention one verse about be holy because I am holy.”

Right on Sister! You are 100% correct.

I have heard Mrs. F’s song and dance all my life. You need to read all the scriptures about how God requires holiness like Matt. 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

How about 2 Corinthians 7:
1 Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; WITHOUT HOLINESS NO ONE WILL SEE THE LORD. 15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

James 2:18
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

James 2:20
But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

James 2:26
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

In Romans 6:1
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death.
vs15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
19 I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. 20When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 7:7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”


Matt 5:17-20
17″Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.(****OUCH*****)

Monica July 29, 2008 - 1:13 am

Quote Kelly:
“but I struggle with “walking in the middle” “
I also struggle. I consider the “middle” fence walking. My favorite quote is “Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that stood it’s ground” so when I am criticized for my convictions I remember that I want to be an oak not a nut that refuses to stand. ;0)

In regards to Mrs. F’s comments, I’d like to say it is the apostle Paul in Romans who said we are to walk by our own convictions, yet you are attacking Kelly’s convictions because they are not your own.
It did come across as more of a rebuke or ridicule than simply sharing your faith, I am sorry to say. Maybe that has to do with the part where you say she wont agree with you and follow that with accusations of being a false teacher trying to lead people astray and of not being saved. The trite apology at the begining does not seem as sincere when compared with the note that follows.
And one further note, quote Mrs. F “learn to put more of your faith in Christ than in laws established by man” even if Kelly and her family were following The Law as Paul in the verses you quote, she would not be placing her faith in man’s laws as God is the Author of The Law.
Maybe from reading from time to time only you have gotten a false impression of her heart. She shares, as in Titus 2, with other women as to equip them, and to make them think; not to burden them.
We should all (me included) be careful that our scriptures are taken in light of other scriptures and aren’t taken out of context.

Sarah July 29, 2008 - 9:57 am

While a person can definitely be zealous for the wrong things (biblically speaking), I do not see how you would fit into that category. Along with the others who have already commented on Mrs. F’s comments, I agree that she seems to be confusing the law/salvation with following righteousness after being saved.

Word Warrior July 29, 2008 - 10:08 am

I appreciate your ladies’ response in my defense…simply because sometimes I fear that maybe I have totally miscommunicated my intent; maybe I’m not clear…but when you confirm exactly how I feel, I am relieved 😉

Barb July 29, 2008 - 11:58 am

Good post! I’ve been thinking just this week, how we as Believers need to be more zealous for the Lord.


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