I see the word jealous and I think bad, wrong, sinful. The word should never be a word that describes my heart or my mind much less God! I think of all the times that my mom told me as a teenager not to be jealous or those times in my own mind I warned of the green-eyed monster of jealousy rearing its ugly head. There are even children’s song that give admonition against the sin of jealously. However, in this case, I can say jealousy doesn’t hold the same connotation. There is nothing evil, nothing sinful about God so having a jealous God is something of righteousness. It is a characteristic of God just like love or faithfulness that falls into His every day plan and He cannot deny Himself. So what does it mean that God is jealous? And why does it matter?
What does it mean that God is jealous? Abba Father who longs so deeply to be rooted in each of our lives fights for us. He battles our battles, He weeps when we weep, and He rejoices when His children rejoice. This same God desires so deeply to not see even one lost sheep He covets our time, our hearts, our life, our all. He wants all of us. He is jealous of those things that steal our time, our precious God-given time. When we commit to His ways it is not something to take lightly. NO! He wants us to be who He created us to be which goes against the very culture, the fallen world we live in. Since the Fall, God has fought to redeem His people so much so that He willingly sent His son to die on Cross to make the wrongs of humanity right (John 3:16, Romans 5:12-21). He pursues every nook of our heart and speaks redemption over the darkest parts. In that process, He wants nothing to replace Him in the sovereignty of our life. He is jealous of all things that we put before Him. Our time, our possessions, our finances, our jobs, our children, our ministries….the list could go on! It includes anything in our life that replaces His Lordship.
Don’t be mistaken in thinking God falls into the definition of jealously in the world. The jealously that shrivels and eats at the heart and mind. No, His jealously is a righteous jealously calling us back to our first love. Calling us back to our Creator, our Father, our Savior, and our Lord. Righteous jealously seeks after and pursues even the one lost sheep, the prodigal Son, and the wayward woman at the well. A jealous God seeks to restore relationship, redeem the time, and radically transform the lives of those that allow it.
So why does it matter? It matters because if God didn’t care…He wouldn’t care! Silly sentence I know but our faith apart from God intimately caring about His creation and desiring a relationship with them, with me, is nothing. Our faith without a jealous God that cares enough to not leave us in our sin and shame means I am lost for all eternity. God seeks after His Bride, the Church and desires she not play the harlot anymore. Just as we read throughout the Old Testament, the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, were told as part of the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20:5, stop messing around with other gods (little g, no power, not the real thing gods) and know that I am jealous for you and I AM the real God. This was both a message of love but also condemnation of behavior. God wants everything we do to look like Him (Philippians 2:5). It matters because the God we serve is holy and full of truth. His jealously comes when we allow the things in our personal worlds to crowd Him out. He is jealous for that space! He wants all of our space and desires nothing less than things of eternal value that put His glory on display.