A quick Google search of the word, Jealous, and you get the following definitions:
- feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages
- feeling or showing suspicion of someone’s unfaithfulness in a relationship
- fiercely protective or vigilant of one’s rights or possessions
- (of God) demanding faithfulness and exclusive worship
The definition with which I most relate is the first one. Growing up, I’m pretty sure I perfected the art of insecurity, all driven by jealousy and comparison. I was so good at comparing myself with others. My friends were always prettier, skinnier, more successful, smarter, funnier, more talented, well-liked… and the list is just getting started. I don’t even quite know from where these insecurities stemmed. I grew up knowing God, was blessed with awesome parents who built in to me, and had all my needs met. So that led me to believe I was just “wired” with these insecurities. However, to say I was just “wired” that way was a lie…
…Or was it?
If we are created in God’s perfect image, could jealousy be part of who He is too? That last definition above would lead me to believe that. And I wanted to learn more about what this means for me. And so, I headed straight to His word:
Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.– Exodus 34:14
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God… – Deuteronomy 5:9
Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins.
– Joshua 24:19
How long, Lord? Will you be angry forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire? – Psalm 79:5
I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. – 2 Corinthians 11:2
He is jealous for me. (cue David Crowder Band’s “How He Loves”)
According to Psychology Today, Jealousy is a sign of love; it’s a sign of wanting attention from the one you love or comes from fear of losing the affection of the one you love. Okay, well we know God does not fear, but we know God is love, and He wants our love.
Personally, I find it incredibly ironic that my jealousies and insecurities led me astray from God, but all the while he was jealous for me. The further I strayed, the more jealous He was. And the very thing that helped me push through and past MY insecurities, jealousies, and envy over the years, was giving it all to God, who desperately wanted the attention and worth I was giving those things. He was jealous for it and He wanted all of it. And what freedom I experience when I give it to him.
I recently read a fantastic blog on this very topic on AllAboutGOD.com, and the author posed the question, “What could we possibly have in our life that arouses God’s jealousy?” The answer? Well, the author pointed out big things we have in our life – Our Time, Our Possessions, and Our Purpose – when we don’t give them to God, that arouses His jealousy. It’s these things and so much more.
The author further shares, “No dedicated husband or wife having integrity wants to share their spouse with a substitute—neither does God. God expects our exclusive devotion. When we give preference to anything instead of God, it is idolatry. We are committing spiritual adultery and God displays divine jealousy.” Do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 4:23-24)
From time to time, my husband and I enjoy discussing the Good Word Project word of the month, and as we were discussing Jealous, he dropped another one of his awesome truth bombs on me (regular readers…he’s getting good at this, isn’t he?!) He shared Ephesians 2:10, (For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do) , and pointed out, if you are chasing after things of this world, then you’re not going after those things He prepared for you. And might that make him a wee bit jealous? Especially considering He knows His plans are perfect for us? He’s jealous if I give my affections and focus to something else. He has something in His plans that’s better, but that I may or may not do depending on my willingness to follow Him.
Yes, God is Jealous for us, but He is merciful. Take the Israelites; “…though the Israelites frequently displayed their spiritual infidelity towards God, He spared them because He is merciful.” (A Jealous God, AllAboutGOD.com) How I need God’s mercy as I know I frequently chase after things of this world when I know I should be chasing after Him. I spent years perfecting the art of insecurity, but my heart’s desire is to perfect running after God.
Lord, I am so grateful that you are a merciful and loving God, jealous for me even in all my weakness. I am sorry for when I chase after things that are of this world and not you. Please open my eyes to that which is of you, and please nudge me when I give my affections, my worth, and my time to the wrong things. I love you, Lord.