Jealous, Are You?

“Let’s go shopping!”

When most people hear those three words they probably think ‘retail’, but not me. I don’t much care for malls and their high-priced/trendy merchandise. I do however occasionally like to hit the estate sales. For me, it’s kind of like a treasure hunt and sometimes if I’m up early enough and am sharp enough, I can find a certifiable gem among the remnants that are leftover when people downsize.

But, as you might expect, I’m not the only one who knows that “the early bird gets the worm” and with the advent of online estate sale websites, it’s easy to get a preview of what’s available long before the sale actually opens to the public. That often guarantees that on opening day, there are always swarms of bargain hunters (most of whom are retired and unlike me, have plenty of time on their hands) congregating together, meandering and picking through various piles of jetsam from someone’s life. And you know, the guys looking for the tools are often the most determined and persistent. I’ve seen many ‘toolies’ (as I call them), pouring over cast-off items in a shop or garage, clutching them tightly while they make a decision. All it takes to close the sale is for an equally aggressive ‘toolie’ to walk by and say “Hey, that’s a great deal! Are you going to buy that?” The threat of another shopper getting “his” item stirs up a little jealous greed and almost always causes them to buy the item, whether it was actually as good deal or not.

Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose Name is Jealous, is a jealous God. ~ Exodus 34:14

The picture I just described is a pretty good illustration of jealousy as we usually define it…. full of suspicion, greed, envy, distrust, and selfish motives. And if that’s the only thing we know about jealousy, it’s no wonder that we have a hard time believing it to be a characteristic of God… even though the Bible describes Him that way 10 different times.

But if we look up the definition in Webster’s, the actual meaning of jealous is “intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness.” If we fully embrace that concept, it becomes easier to understand the concept of godly jealousy. Instead of being about distrust, personal ego, possessiveness and covetousness, God’s jealousy is about purity and devotion. It’s righteous in nature. And just as godly anger is good, godly jealousy is beneficial as well.

Every reference in the Bible to God’s jealousy relates to how He feels when the people He loves forsake Him for other gods. His jealousy is an outgrowth,  and an inseparable consequence, of His love for us. It’s because He loves us so much that He does not and CANNOT tolerate any competition with Him in our lives.

First Corinthians 6:19 and 7:23 reminds us that as a believer, you  are not your own;  you have been “bought with a price.” So when you became a Christian, God put a big stamp on your life that says “MINE.” Effectively, He says, “I’ve purchased you, and you belong to me.”

And you can take comfort and rest in the secure knowledge that God always guards what is His. His protective desire  is for us to be solely focused on Him, because He knows that when we give our affection to anything other than our Creator and source of life, we’re going to end up disappointed and harmed. So His version of jealousy actively works to drive things out of our lives that will only destroy us. Sometimes that comes in the form of painful discipline or withholding something we want, but even when it hurts, we can be assured that His actions are always motivated from a heart of pure love.

If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:31


18 thoughts on “Jealous, Are You?

    1. Our experience with jealousy is basically only the bad kind so it makes it hard to understand how God can have what we believe is only a self-centered emotion. But uncorrupted, jealousy is about wanting the best for us from a the heart of God that has overwhelming love.

  1. What a great explanation! I had to share it on Facebook. I once heard Oprah say that she left organized religion when she heard God described as jealous in a sermon and that didn’t jive with who she believed Him to be. If she could only understand this, she might have a much different impact on the world. Visiting you from the Recharge wednesday link up.

    1. I heard that too. If you listen to her again, she gets confused with the difference between God being jealous OF her, and God being jealous FOR her. there is a HUGE difference in those 2 little words. one is the jealousy like the guys in the estate sale, the other is about His great love for her (and us). i wish she could have understood that too. thanks for reading and for the share, Lauren!

  2. super post – and something I don’t think enough about. God wants me, period, and to not live out of that knowledge is a danger to me and our relationship. thanks for such a thoughtful post – a lot in a small amount of words! (I have a short attention span!)

    1. Thanks for your encouragement Sue! It’s hard to imagine how much God really loves us but Paul prayed for just that… for us “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Eph 3:18

  3. I like the definition of God’s jealousy. And now and then go retail, they have sales. Hope you find some nice old jewelry at the estate sales, my mother has a few pieces.

    1. I don’t shop for clothes or jewelry at estate sales. More looking for antiques or pieces that can be repurposed in new and different ways. It’s fun to find treasures, but also to look for ordinary things and brainstorm with my daughter about how they can be reused in unusual ways! Lots of fun! Thanks for stopping by!

    1. It’s amazing how we can take our corruption of an emotion like jealousy and paint a distorted version of it on to God rather than trying to understand what a pure version of it might be.

    1. You’d think the women would be the ones to watch out for at those sales, but the guys are so funny! I enjoy just watching them sometimes! haha!

  4. I grew up with avid ‘slummers’ (bargain sale, yard sale, and thrift shop devotees) :), so your story drew me right in! I love how there’s a difference between God’s jealousy, and the petty emotions I feel when someone gets something I think I deserve (when in reality, we ALL get something we don’t deserve–grace)

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