These words have been ricocheting in my mind for some weeks now; especially the weight of this word "jealous".
I have always viewed this word negatively; always associated it with anger, regret, even contempt. Jealous of others, jealous of good fortune, even jealous of opportunities. Certainly envy has been synonymous. All emotions that I tell my own children to bury, to release. You can't love others and be jealous of them, right?
"Austin, when Lydia gets an ice-cream on a date with daddy, don't cry - be happy for her. You had one last week."
"Lydia, when Caleb gets to go out with his friends after a soccer win, don't be angry because you have to go home with mom and dad, be happy for him"
Yet even still I find I struggle with others getting new toys. To my shame I recently felt that twinge of jealousy towards another for something that should have been trivial. It was something that my family isn't even ready for at this point in our lives nor could we accommodate. Realizing my emotion for what it was, I had to repent, but it was there none-the-less. I wanted what they had and was not, in that moment, happy for them but sad for myself. I thought I was beyond this. I thought I had "put away childish things". Why would I stoop so low? Jealous.
But is all jealousy bad? Many will recognize the lyrics of the David Crowder "How He Loves" opening this post. A husband's jealous affection for their bride certainly wouldn't be considered amiss. But turn this on its head. Instead of a perfect happily-ever-after, picture a bride willfully unfaithful. Jealousy is the natural expectation, along with betrayal, rage, and possibly even hatred. But picture a man dedicated beyond all reason to this woman. Repeatedly she violates the marriage vows and repeatedly he takes her back. His overwhelming love for her, his compassion is unfathomable. In fact, at times it is the only thing that draws her to his arms. Certainly she regrets her actions after they occur, but that doesn't seem to stop her from sliding back into new faults, inflicting new pains upon her betrothed. It's as if she can't help herself...
Sounds abusive and dysfunctional. Yet we are that bride; our Savior that groom. And he is jealous for us. But jealousy brings with it anger and intolerance. An anger and intolerance rages against that which would steal his most cherished loved one from him. For the individual there is grace. But against that which would steal the life and created purpose from those he holds most dear there is no grace, no tolerance, no acceptance. Jealousy burns hot.
Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
This is damning statement. It crushes all excuses for comfort, lack of obedience, and tepid lack-luster discipleship. It demands removal of everything we would place as gods before total surrender and devotion to him and in our times these lists are long. He paid the highest of prices to be content with anything less than all of us. Suddenly the opening lines of a moving worship song bear the weight of one who has moved heaven and earth to be reunited with his bride.
He is jealous for me...
The call is clear. Stop playing in the filth, let go of the weights, the pursuits that have no eternal consequence or beauty. Quit prostituting yourself to passions that ultimately leave you emptier, more desolate, and more alone. Stop desperately grasping for the sand of this world that only runs through the fingers of empty hands. Only he fills. Only he sustains. Only he purifies.
He is jealous for you.
Become jealous for him.