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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Unrighteous Zeal: Part 1 Explanation

(This is a series on unrighteous zeal. I'll use quotes from the scriptures, Hugh Nibley's classic essay, "Zeal Without Knowledge" and President Cecil O. Samuelson's recent address, "Appropriate Zeal." There will be six parts.)
And yet, I being over-zealous to inherit the land of our fathers, collected as many as were desirous to go up to possess the land, and started again on our journey into the wilderness to go up to the land; but we were smitten with famine and sore afflictions; for we were slow to remember the Lord our God. Mosiah 9:3
Zeal itself is not inherently evil, or even unrighteous. It should be a positive concept because it represents dedication, intensity and passion amongst other things.

The scriptures are replete with references to zeal, and the word is often attached to Deity. Without zeal and other associated virtues in courageous leaders and followers of previous days, we would not have this nation or this university, the gospel would not have been restored, and many other events of extreme importance would not have happened. [Samuelson, Also see Zeal]
Taken to extremes, it can be a negative.

It apparently was not necessarily so that Zeniff was inherently wicked or intentionally unwise, but he was overzealous. It is also clear that his misplaced zeal led to other poor decisions that not only affected him personally in adverse ways but also caused tremendous difficulties for others under his influence. It didn’t help that he was also stiff-necked, which means that he was haughty and stubborn too. Can you see any potential dangers in a man who is strong, forceful, passionate, enthusiastic, stubborn, full of himself, and overzealous too? I know that all of you can perceive these interesting traits or character flaws in others, but do they ever creep into your own persona as well? I hope that is something we all try to consider at least a little, and correct if necessary, on a regular basis. [Samuelson]
Unrighteous zeal can lead to bad decision making and negatively influence those around us.

It is unlikely that we can recognize the presence of unrighteous zeal in ourselves without consistent and heartfelt personal examination. The nature of unrighteous zeal seems to blind us to its effects on us.

Am I guilty of unrighteous zeal? This is a question we need to ask ourselves regularly. If you are pursuing the wrong ends or embracing the wrong ideas with zeal then you are in real danger.

Unrighteous Zeal: Part 1 Explanation 
Unrighteous Zeal: Part 2 The Need for Zeal 
Unrighteous Zeal: Part 3 Unrighteous Zeal in the Church 
Unrighteous Zeal: Part 4 Unrighteous Zeal Outside the Church -- Sports and Politics 
Unrighteous Zeal: Part 5 Satan is Its Author
Unrighteous Zeal: Part 6 Forbear and Not Overdo or Underdo

1 comment:

  1. I have often thought that the tragic results of the Martin and Willie handcart companies were the products of over-zealousness combined with stiff-neckedness.

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