On most Wednesday mornings I drag myself out of bed a little earlier than usual so I can meet with two or three other guys from church. We sip coffee, discuss a book we are reading, talk about our lives, and pray for each other. The other day, we started talking about jealousy. If jealousy is a bad thing, then why does the bible say God is a jealous God?
I remember when I was in college, dating my wife. We hadn’t been together very long, and she had a guy back home that wouldn’t give up. Even while I was dating her, he would send her flowers. I think he even asked her to marry him. It made me jealous. Who did he think he was, trying to steal my girl? She’s MINE! A few months later, she went home for the summer. The guy had given up. I was glad. Even so, Tammy called one day to ask if I cared that she go out with a guy she was friends with. It wasn’t a “date.” Just two friends going to hang out together. I told her . . . Yes . . . I mind. She didn’t go. I was glad. And still jealous.
So what does it mean when God is jealous? I think it means something different than when we are. I was jealous for some of the right reasons and perhaps a few wrong ones. I loved Tammy. I didn’t want to lose her. I didn’t want anyone else to have her. I wanted what was best for her, but I also wanted to hang on to what I thought was best for me. I was jealous because I didn’t want her to give to someone else the attention that I thought belonged to me. I didn’t want to lose what was MINE. I cared for myself, and my “possession.” My jealousy has a since of selfishness in it. My jealousy has me claiming as mine, another person. Tammy is not mine. She belongs to God.
God is jealous for all the right reasons. He is jealous when other things pull us away from Him. He is jealous when we put other things above Him, not because He has some sort of ego, but because He loves us and wants what is best for us. He loves us so dearly that He jealously looks after us. When evil would try to stake a claim on us, He scoops us to Himself, jealously guarding His prized possession. When Satan sends his evil on the attack, my Lord whose name is Jealous sweeps his arms around me and declares “MINE!” He is jealous because we really are His. And because what is best for us, is Him.
. . . for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God . . .
– Exodus 34:14
Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?
– James 4:5