The DEEP

Zeal

for Your house.

Romans 15:1–6 (NKJV)

We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew Henry, in his legendary Bible commentary, explains this beautifully— “The design of Christianity is to soften and meeken the spirit, to teach us the art of obliging and true complaisance … Christians should study to be pleasing.”

But there’s a problem with this. After almost a chapter and a half of admonishing us to bear with the scruples of the weak, Paul’s starting to sound legalistic. He says that we, “ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” Verse 14:18 is also troubling. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. (NKJV)

Surely the man who wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith,” can’t be saying we have to do these things to be acceptable to God, can he?

May genoitaw!1 He’s telling us what we should do, but not for our sake. No, we’re supposed to be focused on team goals. Everything is for God and His purposes. Paul quotes Psalm 69:9.

But notice the whole verse — Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. — Psalm 69:9 (NKJV)

Salvation isn’t supposed to be what motivates Christians; it’s zeal for Your house.


Like so many of the lessons of the Bible, this one traces directly back to the central organizing principle of Christianity—Jesus is Lord—which is our confession of faith. When we declare fealty to the Lord, we need to be serious about it.

We’re not saved through the actions we take because we’re serious; we’re saved through serious faith.

But peel back the onion another layer and we get to the real heart of the issue. It’s not even all about how we’re saved, because it’s not all about getting saved. It’s about truth.

If we confess that Jesus is Lord and serve Him faithfully, but the reason we do all that is so that we’ll get into heaven, then our faith is still all about us, and not zeal for Your house.

That’s just pretending to be serious.

1This Greek phrase is explained here: https://www.ailbe.org/columns/thedeep/item/15395-the-trick


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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.