“I have become a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my mother’s sons. For zeal for Your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.” – Psalm 69:8-9
Imagine with me a house that is consumed by fire, how it wrecks it. A man consumed by lust, and how it twists him. A father consumed by his work, and nothing else seems to matter to him. Yet here in Psalm 69 we see a righteous consuming with twice the ferocity; wrecking our sin, untwisting our hearts and a realization that nothing else is so important as knowing Jesus.
Can we define our faith in the same way? Are we so burned up by zeal for the Lord and His house that we praise Him even in the middle of ridicule, or are we lukewarm zombies shuffling through a daily routine with God, while our passions lie elsewhere? (Read Revelation 3:16)
The Psalmist is left by those closest to him, and he bears ridicule, hatred and strife because of his identifying with God. “For it is for Your sake that I have borne reproach, that dishonor has covered my face.” – Psalm 69:7 His own family has rejected him – “I have become a stranger to my brothers…”
And yet David praises God, “But as for me, my prayer is to You, O Lord… I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify Him with thanksgiving.” – Psalm 69:13a, 30
Let’s take a look at our hearts; do we prioritize Christ when we are living in a culture that screams at us to prioritize ourselves? Do we work and strive to please people when we are called to please God, no matter who says otherwise? Do we graciously accept the ridicule that comes with following God in a post-Christian world because nothing is sweeter than Jesus? Has zeal for His house consumed us?
Or do we cave, bow to culture and stay silent when Christ is mocked? Do we validate sin in people out of a fear of being hated? Are we embarrassed by the Gospel we are meant to identify ourselves with? “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26
What does this mean? Does this mean we must hate people around us to effectively follow Jesus? Of course not! It means that even the sweetest and most comforting things in life should be sour in comparison to Jesus. The zeal for Christ and His house should make everything else pale when paralleled against His perfection – and yet this often means making difficult decisions that seem to not make sense in a worldly point-of-view. “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” – Matthew 6:24
When God says “You shall have no other gods before me.” – Exodus 20:3 He does not merely mean that we should prioritize Him and let all other things be a close #2 on the totem pole, but rather that He alone holds first, second and third place on our priority list.
I sat with my pastor once who explained to me that he does not love people because he loves people. Rather, he loves people because he loves God, and loves what God loves, and God loves people! All loves that we have in life should be filtered through God. We obey our parents because God is delighted when we do that. It is a command. We love our enemies because God has told us to. We love people because God loves people! Zeal for God looks like loving what He loves, and hating what He hates. (Read Proverbs 6:16-19)
When we love what God loves and hate what God hates, and when we boldly take ridicule for His name’s sake, and when everything else we could lean on pales in comparison to Him in our hearts we may shout with the Psalmist, “zeal for Your house has consumed me!”