“And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’
But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.’ And they went to another village.”
There is a zeal that is ugly in service to the Lord. You can get so zealous in serving the Lord that you run ahead of God. It’s just as bad to run ahead of Him as it is to run behind Him. There’s enough time in every day to gracefully do everything God wants you to do. Jesus said, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). Some people think that to deny yourself you must be somber. Jesus wasn’t somber, Jesus was a man of joy. Jesus went to parties. Little children sat on His lap. There’s an extremism that is foolish and fruitless. I’m talking about misguided zeal. In this passage, Jesus was dealing with the Samaritans. Now you know the Samaritans and the Jews had quite a rivalry going. The disciples spoke to Jesus and said “Let’s get these Samaritans, Lord. We’re going to bring down fire on these people.” But notice Jesus rebuked them.
What am I saying? There ought to be a burning, blazing, passionate, emotional love for the Lord Jesus Christ, a zeal that displays grace. But God keeps us from a zeal that distorts grace and makes us fanatics. Do you know what a fanatic is? Somebody who’s lost his direction and doubled his speed. Churches today are full of these people. It’s the grace of God that we need.
Think about a time you took matters of God into your own hands. Repent, and consider what it would mean to live like Jesus in those moments.