As a woman, I am no stranger to jealousy.
There is a difference between jealousy and envy though. Put very simply, jealousy is when something is mine and I hate that you’re using it. Envy is when something is not mine and I hate the fact that you have it. Lately, I have been feeling jealous a lot with my handsome 19 year old spending all his blooming time talking to his little girlfriend. He is mine and someone else is “stealing” his love, attention and smiles from me. (Once he is married, I pray my feelings will change, but until then HE IS MINE, NOT YOURS!)
In my devotional today I came across a word I don’t often hear as a characteristic of God. In Exodus 20:5 it says, “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God. . .” God is a jealous God. He is jealous of what comes before my eyes. He is jealous of what I do with my time. He is jealous of anything that “steals” my affections, my attention and my smiles from Him. Notice it’s not that I spend time with my children; it’s that I enjoy spending time with them more than I do spending time in His Word. It’s not that I love to crochet and listen to music, it is that I love doing that more than I love spending time in prayer – speaking to Him. It’s not that I love trying new foods and visiting new places, its that I enjoy them more than visiting with His people in His church. It is about my affections, or feelings about things that is the problem.
God does not want to compete with my loyalty. But before God can be jealous of what takes His place -this is something I have missed all this time – I first have to be His. Unlike my son who will one day marry and no longer belong to me, I will always belong to God. And He is rightfully jealous of anything that takes priority over Him.
In “Knowing the Living God” Paul Washer writes: “God is jealous in that He will not surrender His claim to that which is rightfully His.” God is not envious of my time spent on facebook. He doesn’t pine away hating that I have more fun with a screen than with Him. He’s is rightfully jealous of it! Why? Because He bought me with a price! Because He made me co-heir! Because He adopted me! Because He justified me! Because He is my owner and I take that for granted and meander into the arms of anything shiny. In a way, I am adulterous! We have all seen it. The wife who has a husband with a wandering eye. How quickly she tries to avert him with anything to keep him from giving his affection away. I am like him, belonging to someone else, placing my eyes on things that do not satisfy. Allowing my love to fleet to other things that continuously let me down. Busying myself in the temporal, the mundane and the finite. Hi, my name is Anna, but you can call me Gomer!!
It is Holy Week and revival week in my church. I have spent the last couple of days really contemplating my affections and what I delight in. Do I delight in His Word? Do I love His Church? Do I enjoy spending time in prayer? Do I rejoice in telling my children, friends and family what He has done in my life? Do I find spiritual things boring? Is my devotional a chore? And if I answer these questions honestly and the answer isn’t the one God would approve, what am I going to do about it?
There is comfort in belonging to Him. I am comforted that He is jealous because if He wasn’t, that would be even more frightening. It would mean I am an orphan (John 14:18). It would mean I am a commoner (Romans 8:17). It would mean I am abandoned.(Hebrews 13:5) It would mean I am alone.(Matt.28:20) It would mean I am a child of darkness (Acts 26:18) and of wrath (Eph. 2:3). It would mean my father is the devil. (John 8:44) So, I am thankful, He in His mercy, has laid claim to me. But because He has, He perfectly harbors certain feelings because of what I do. He is perfectly and justly jealous of my affections, and it is I, not Him, that needs to change.
Thankfully, He is also perfectly patient, forgiving, compassionate, loving and longsuffering. He will not abandon me or forsake me. My Father owns me, and knowing that, may I strive not to make Him jealous.