From the January/February 2021 issue of Discern Magazine

What Are You Passionate About?

History and the Bible give us examples of zeal and passion. Are we passionate about the most important things? Or are we being distracted by other passions?

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What do you feel strongly about? What lights the fire in your soul and infuses you with focus and energy?

What are you really passionate about in your life?

Give me liberty…

An example of the kind of passion I’m talking about comes from U.S. history. In March of 1775 tensions between the American colonies and Great Britain were high. A man named Patrick Henry stood to address the Virginia legislature and share his view of the situation. It was apparently a rather impromptu speech about the need to separate from the British crown and form their own union—something about which Mr. Henry felt very strongly.

Perhaps you’ve never heard or read the entire thing, but I’ll almost guarantee that our American readers know the last seven words of his fiery and impassioned speech. As he brought his relatively short oration to its crescendo, he thundered out to the audience, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

Patrick Henry was passionate about the founding of a new nation.

Some common passions

It seems human beings are hardwired to have strong feelings about certain things. Not everyone feels strongly about the same things or in the same way, and certainly not all of our passions are of the same magnitude as founding a new country!

But there are still a lot of different things that fire up the imaginations and passions of people.

A few things people are commonly quite passionate about are fashion, art, music, health and fitness, hobbies, technology, sports and sports teams, hunting and fishing (or anti-hunting and maybe anti-fishing), animal rights and more.

Oddly enough, a few days ago I was talking with someone who was very passionate about animal rights, specifically opossum rights. … Okay, I’ve got to admit that was a new one for me.

On a more somber note, today there are a lot of people who are passionate and even violent about some prickly social issues. And many are very passionate about the political positions and platforms that are intractably connected to all those social issues.

That’s a lot of passion, a lot of emotion! And the chances are very good that you are passionate about some issues too.

So maybe the more important question is: Are you passionate about the right things?

Are you passionate about the right things?

While there is nothing wrong with strong feelings about sports, art, animals or other endeavors in life, there are some things that are more important and that deserve more of our attention than others.

Are we overlooking something infinitely more important that most people miss, yet that we should be passionate about?

“Zeal for Your house”

In the Bible we read an account of when Jesus Christ went up to the temple. He saw people who were doing business, changing money, selling animals to be sacrificed and so forth.

Not only were they doing business on holy ground, but very likely they weren’t being honest and were taking advantage of those who came to the temple to worship and offer sacrifices.

We read in John 2:15-16 that Jesus made a whip of rope, flipped over the money changers’ tables and with zeal drove them all out of the temple! In verse 17 it says, “Then His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.’” The English Standard Version puts it, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Jesus loved people. He was compassionate toward those who were hurting and in need of healing and comfort, and He taught them continually the things that would really make a difference in their lives. He had a passion for people and for serving.

But He was most passionate about the things of God—the standards, values and principles of the great Creator God!

John Gill’s commentary on the Bible points out that Christ’s regard for His Father’s house “was typical of the church of God; and such his concern for his honour, ordinances, and worship, that when he saw the merchandise that was carried on in the temple, his zeal, which was a true and hearty affection for God, … was stirred up in him, and to such a degree that it was like a consuming fire.”

Have we chosen to be passionate about what is really the most important?The standards, values and principles of God stand in stark contrast to those of this present world, which is focused on self-serving interests, immorality and blatant sinfulness. In fact, it is the Kingdom He will bring when He returns that is the only hope for mankind—and He is immensely passionate for that Kingdom!

What about us? How passionate are we for the standards, values and principles of God? Have we chosen to be passionate about what is really the most important?

Enthusiastic about doing good things

Consider the words of the apostle Paul in Titus 2:11-14, as it is translated in God’s Word translation:

“After all, God’s saving kindness has appeared for the benefit of all people. It trains us to avoid ungodly lives filled with worldly desires so that we can live self-controlled, moral, and godly lives in this present world.

“At the same time we can expect what we hope for—the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave himself for us to set us free from every sin and to cleanse us so that we can be his special people who are enthusiastic about doing good things.”

Battling distractions

Most of us want to have that passion, that zeal, that “fire in the belly” for the things of God. But with all the distractions swirling around us, with all the challenges and turmoil in the world, it can be easy for us to lose our focus and allow our greatest level of passion to be given to something else.

We need to make sure we are firmly connected to the Word of God. We must read and study it daily. With prayer and periodic fasting, we should ask God for the passion we need to have as His people. And we can ask Him for the guidance we need to negotiate these challenging times.

If we are immersed in the Word of God, it is harder for other issues to steal all our time and energy!

I am sure we are all passionate about various things. But are we right now passionate about the most important thing? Do we have a Patrick Henry–level of passion for a new Kingdom, the Kingdom of God?

Learn more in our article “Seek First the Kingdom of God.”

About the Author

Tom Clark

Tom Clark

Tom Clark married his lovely wife, Mary, in 1985. They have three grown children and four grandchildren. Tom was ordained a minister in 1989 and has served congregations in Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota and North Dakota. He currently pastors the Bentonville, Van Buren and Mena, Arkansas, congregations of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.

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