J: Godly Jealously?

Jealousy is an interesting emotion. Jealousy is usually thought of as being envious or resenting someone else who is more successful than we are. Another definition of jealousy is to be extremely watchful over something. Reflecting on these two faces of the coin of jealousy makes me think of all the passages in the Bible that say God is jealous. What does this mean? Is God jealous in the first way we defined the term, as if He were jealous over the success of another? NO! God is God, and no one compares to Him at all! Is God therefore jealous in the other way we defined the term as if He were jealously watching over something? YES! God is jealous (Ex. 34.14) over His glory, and will not give it to another (Isa. 48:11).

Now, one verse throws an interesting wrench into this realm of thought – Ephesians 5:1 which says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children…” You see the problem? Part of the holy life Christians are called to is to imitate God Himself, so as to be like Him in character, motives, loves, desires, thoughts, etc. BUT, are we to imitate God’s jealousy? No and Yes. No, in that we cannot be jealous over our own glory, as God is. That would be utter arrogance, selfishness, and egotistical for any created being to do so. And no, we cannot be jealous in that we resent others for being more successful than us in any realm, that would be completely sinful. How then are we to imitate God’s jealousy?

Rather than being jealous for our own glory sinfully, we can be jealous for God’s glory with all our might! This kind of jealousy is put on display for us in one place at least. The man’s name was Phinehas, and his story is found in Numbers 25. A certain Israelite grievously sinned by bringing a pagan Moabite prostitute into the Israel’s camp. He not only brought her in, but strutted her before the tent of meeting, where Moses and the people were weeping over this horrendous sin. This man then brought the woman into his own tent, and began to enjoy the services of this pagan prostitute. Phinehas, who was with the group weeping by the tent of meeting, wouldn’t stand for this sin, because God’s name and glory were being defamed by it. So he rose up when no one else would, took a spear, went into this tent, and thrusted the man and the prostitute through with one strike (obviously they were on top of one another by this point). God’s response to his action was stunning. He said that Phinehas acted so zealousy for His (God’s) glory, that he was as jealous as He was for His glory!

Application – What are you willing to do to be holy? What are you willing to do for the sake of God’s glory? What would Phinehas “glory spear thrust” look like in your life? Are you jealous for your fame? Jealousy can be godly, if its God-ward! What are you jealous for? Your answer will reveal much about you.

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