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Give it Your All


Matthew, and Thomas; James the son of Alpheaus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor.
Luke 6:15

In 1968, the Ohio State Buckeyes made it to the college football national championship. Along the way they soundly and roundly defeated their arch rivals Michigan 50-14. The game against the Wolverines is remembered for the fact, that while the men in scarlet and grey held a commanding lead of 44-14, they pushed for and scored a final touchdown with only minutes to go. Instead of opting for the normal one point conversion, the legendary Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes went for a two-point conversion against "that team from the North," which was unsuccessful. When asked by the press after the game why he went for two points with the game already won, Hayes in his classic manner replied, "Because I couldn't go for three."

Now, there is a football coach who believed in giving it your all. For Woody Hayes, if you are going to play football – you play the whole four quarters, and you give no quarter to the opposing team, especially Michigan. Giving it your all is an admirable quality, and it often makes the difference between victory and defeat, satisfaction and regret. Success in life at every level feeds on blood earnestness. Every noble act and notable accomplishment is the triumph of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm in good things is a good thing, and its absence regarding good things is a bad thing (Gal. 4:18; Rev. 3:9). As a general rule, Christians ought to be geysers of joy, love, and peace, not mud puddles of despair and weariness.

Interestingly, among the men Jesus handpicked to follow Him was a fellow marked by enthusiasm, Simon, called the Zealot (Luke 6:15). By looking at his name we discover that before coming to Christ he belonged to a militant, nationalistic, and Judaistic party bent on throwing off the yoke of Roman domination. These were men committed to the cause of Jewish liberation, committed to the point of death. By grace, however, Simon the political Zealot became a spiritual firebrand. All of that natural passion was channeled toward the Gospel and Christ's nobler kingdom. Jesus in calling Simon sought to harness that zeal and sanctify it for God-glorifying ends. Jesus was a man given to zeal, and He sought it in His disciples (John 2:17).

Enthusiasm is a good thing, and also a God thing. The etymology of the word enthusiasm centers on two Greek words, "en theos" which mean, God in or God within. Grammatically and theologically speaking, enthusiasm is God-inspired passion. This heaven sent and heaven bent zeal should be driven by the glory of God (John 2:16-17), devoted to the Word of God (Psalm 119:139-140), dedicated to the Son of God (Titus 2:14), derived from the Spirit of God (John 7:37-39), and directed toward the people of God (Col. 4:13). Therefore, the most enthusiastic people on planet Earth ought to be those loved by God the Father, redeemed by God the Son, and indwelt by God the Spirit. None should be more alive to life than those who have been made alive in Christ by grace (John 10:10; Eph. 2:1). Of Richard Baxter, the Puritan, an admirer remarked, "He would set the world on fire while another was striking a match!" Go for two!