Most parents try to provide positive support to their children who participate in sports. They attend games and cheer whether their child’s team wins or loses. But sometimes parents can get overzealous in their desire to see a player score. Sports commissions have conducted surveys and found many children have been called names, yelled at, or insulted while playing sports.
One study revealed that 17 percent of kids in sports have been hit, kicked, or slapped; 21 percent have been pressured to play with an injury; and 8 percent have been encouraged to intentionally harm an opponent. For overzealous parents, the outcome of the game is the main focus, rather than allowing their young athlete to have fun.
There were zealots at the time of Christ who were fanatical opponents of Roman rule in Palestine. One such man, named Simon the Zealot, was a disciple of Jesus. He was apparently a member of a nationalistic Jewish sect that was determined to break foreign domination at any cost. These resistance fighters and assassins were nicknamed “dagger men.”
Something happened to Simon when he met Jesus. His misdirected and abusive zeal changed. His heart was no longer filled with a hatred for Rome but with a love for God. Though little is known of him, tradition says he was a missionary in North Africa and died as a martyr in Palestine under the rule of Domitian.
It is not wrong to be zealous. When we give our lives to Jesus, it doesn’t mean we should be listless and apathetic. Paul wrote about Jesus “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” (Titus 2:14, emphasis added).
Zeal can be misdirected. But when we abide in Christ and let His enthusiastic efforts shine through us, we will be greatly rewarded by bearing much fruit (John 15:5).
Precious Lord, guide my enthusiasm and may my passion today be to uplift Jesus in my life.
For Further Study: Proverbs 19:2; Romans 10:2; Revelation 3:19