Temper Zeal

2 Samuel 2:18-19 The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Asahel was a fast runner, like one of the wild gazelles.  He chased Abner and did not turn to the right or the left in his pursuit of him.

Regardless of our vocation, hobbies and interests, all Christians are linked by at least one common calling; the ministry of reconciliation. We are, in one form or another, called to use our gifting in God to minister to the lost always carrying the hope of seeing our wayward friend or neighbor reconciled to God as God intends.

In many ways, it is a pursuit of the enemy; an offensive to thwart his plot, to take back what he’s stolen, to eradicate his influence. Consider Asahel’s pursuit of his enemy, Abner.  Asahel was famous. For what? His speed. Scripture says he ran like a gazelle. Who could catch him? What could stop him? Strangely, it was the one who couldn’t outrun him who ended his life. It seems that Abner may have thrust his spear into the earth leaving the other end to impale Asahel who was closing in, running too fast to avoid his own peril. Ouch and Yikes.

Over the last 15 years of ministry, I have seen some Asahels fall.  They are usually “famous” for one thing.  They have an incredible outstanding quality and are well known for it, often very charismatic and may seem “unstoppable.” Their zeal is remarkable and the intent of their pursuit is often rooted in truth, but they lack moving at a wise pace and think little of waiting for others to join them. The one outstanding gift they have creates a false sense of assuredness that tempts them to rely upon it rather than the One who gifted it. And failure looms.

If Asahel had only slowed down and waited for his brother, Joab, things would have been different.  Joab wasn’t famous for his speed, but he knew how to get rid of Abner. (See the next chapter).  It may seem strange to consider that zeal ever needs tempered, but if it leads us to arrogant independence and a false sense of surety, then rein it in for danger looms. And if you meet another brother or sister who his falling into the “Abner trap,” plead with him to slow down, suggest tempering zeal with wisdom, and then consider joining him in the pursuit.


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