Wednesday, February 07, 2007


“Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” - Exodus 34:14

Question: How do you deal with a God who’s very name is Jealous, a God that proclaims loudly and frequently that He is a Jealous God, and the fact that we as his people are not supposed to be Jealous?

This was the question I faced the other day. How do I respond? So I asked a few people how they would answer it. The best answer I got was, “Because He’s God, so he can do whatever He wants.” Fortunately this was said with a bit of a smirk, so I knew this wonderful woman that I admire hadn’t just crushed my opinion of her. But still…

So these are my thoughts on the topic.

1) Emotions are from God, and so Jealousy is not always a Bad thing.

Emotions are something that are God given, and important to who we are as people. Jesus showed us a wide variety of emotions during his time on earth. Whether it was anger at the money changers in the Temple, or the tears shed over Jerusalem, Jesus as a man who had emotions and used them. There are times when injustice calls us to a righteous anger. There are times when we hear stories that break our heart and call us into action. Even our sexual urges are something given by God. All of these emotions obviously can be used incorrectly. Anger can turn into destructive violence, sadness can lead to a unhealthy view of the state of the world, and sexual feelings, can lead to a whole host of problems. So is jealousy like these emotions? Can it be used correctly?

2) Really what is Jealousy

Well to answer that last question. First we need a framework, a definition of what Jealousy is. The one I found that actually helped a lot was from Wikipedia (the encyclopedia that allows even idiots to be experts). Anyway, they say. Jealousy typically refers to the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that occur when a person believes a valued relationship is being threatened by a rival.” So then if Jealousy is our reaction when a valued relationship is being threatened by a rival, I think it starts to make a little more sense. We as the creation of God, are created to be in relationship. Because of the fall and some bad choices on our part, or relationship with God becomes threatened by the entrance of sin and Satan. Now maybe I’m putting human emotions on God, but wouldn’t it make sense for God to become jealous when He sees His perfect creation, His relationship with His children so threatened. This definition has helped be understand how God can be jealous, and how that can be a good thing.

But then we are still left with the question, What about us? Is there ever a place where it is right for us to be jealous? I’d really like your input here, because I can’t think of many. In fact the only one I can really think of would be marriage. When a husband or wife feels there relationship is threatened by an outside force, jealousy kicks in to protect that marriage. Now like all other emotions it can be misused and abused. But within the context of marriage jealousy can be a very good thing.

I guess the problem is that there is a very thin line between jealousy and envy. Envy is that desire for things you don’t have. And often it seems like Jealousy gets lumped in with it. But at least to me, I see a difference. I think I can see how God can be jealous, how there is place for us to be jealous. But at the same time the need to walk with care, to make sure we aren’t slipping over into envy. Longing for something that we have no right to.

So what are your thoughts?

1 comment:

Ben said...

One issue with jealousy is what we do with our feeling of jealousy. It seems that the normal human response is to do something stupid (like kill our rival). God's jealousy seems to lead him to love us more. He wants us and so he sends his son to die for us.