“Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works”—Titus 2:14.
We should be forward and cheerful in well doing. Zeal is “a higher degree of love”: the more love, the more forward in acting. Certainly, zeal will readily set us a-work to do all we do willingly, freely, and cheerfully, as the Apostle intimates, “For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many” (2Co 9:2). It is not zeal to stand bucking and disputing every inch with the Spirit of God. You are not only called to the bare practice of good works, but you must be first and most forward and leaders of others. Watch [for] opportunities to do good, and take hold of them when they are offered. We should be glad of an opportunity offered, wherein to discover our affection to God and our hatred to sin. This is zeal: to be willing and forward.
2. To be zealous is to be self-denying and resolute notwithstanding discouragements. Zeal is a mixed affection. It consists partly of love and partly of indignation. So when I am zealous of a thing, I love that thing and shake off and hate all that lets and hinders it. Zeal sets us a-work and holds us to it notwithstanding discouragements. Zeal will not stick at a little labor and charge; the more resistance, the more glory! God’s children are glad that they may not serve God with that which cost them nothing, as David professeth, “Neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing” (2Sa 24:24). Certainly men are not zealous and their hearts are not set upon the ways of God, when every slight excuse will serve the turn, and every little profit draws them away, and every petty business doth hinder them and break off communion with God, and every slender temptation doth interrupt and break off all their purposes and resolutions to duty and obedience, be it prayer, charity, or acts of righteousness. We must be resolute for “it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing” (Gal 4:18).
3. To be zealous of good works imports diligence and earnestness to advance piety to the highest pitch…Is he zealous that is contented with a little charity, with a little worship only? Sloth and idleness will not stand with zeal: “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom 11:11). Thus, it will be when we are seething hot in spirit…A large affection cannot be contented with mean things and low degrees of holiness…Those that are planted into this noble Vine, Jesus Christ, are full of good works.