“Let’s go shopping!”
When most people hear those three words they probably think ‘retail’, but not me. I don’t much care for malls and their high-priced/trendy merchandise. I do however occasionally like to hit the estate sales. For me, it’s kind of like a treasure hunt and sometimes if I’m up early enough and am sharp enough, I can find a certifiable gem among the remnants that are leftover when people downsize.
But, as you might expect, I’m not the only one who knows that “the early bird gets the worm” and with the advent of online estate sale websites, it’s easy to get a preview of what’s available long before the sale actually opens to the public. That often guarantees that on opening day, there are always swarms of bargain hunters (most of whom are retired and unlike me, have plenty of time on their hands) congregating together, meandering and picking through various piles of jetsam from someone’s life. And you know, the guys looking for the tools are often the most determined and persistent. I’ve seen many ‘toolies’ (as I call them), pouring over cast-off items in a shop or garage, clutching them tightly while they make a decision. All it takes to close the sale is for an equally aggressive ‘toolie’ to walk by and say “Hey, that’s a great deal! Are you going to buy that?” The threat of another shopper getting “his” item stirs up a little jealous greed and almost always causes them to buy the item, whether it was actually as good deal or not.
Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose Name is Jealous, is a jealous God. ~ Exodus 34:14
The picture I just described is a pretty good illustration of jealousy as we usually define it…. full of suspicion, greed, envy, distrust, and selfish motives. And if that’s the only thing we know about jealousy, it’s no wonder that we have a hard time believing it to be a characteristic of God… even though the Bible describes Him that way 10 different times.
But if we look up the definition in Webster’s, the actual meaning of jealous is “intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness.” If we fully embrace that concept, it becomes easier to understand the concept of godly jealousy. Instead of being about distrust, personal ego, possessiveness and covetousness, God’s jealousy is about purity and devotion. It’s righteous in nature. And just as godly anger is good, godly jealousy is beneficial as well.
Every reference in the Bible to God’s jealousy relates to how He feels when the people He loves forsake Him for other gods. His jealousy is an outgrowth, and an inseparable consequence, of His love for us. It’s because He loves us so much that He does not and CANNOT tolerate any competition with Him in our lives.
First Corinthians 6:19 and 7:23 reminds us that as a believer, you are not your own; you have been “bought with a price.” So when you became a Christian, God put a big stamp on your life that says “MINE.” Effectively, He says, “I’ve purchased you, and you belong to me.”
And you can take comfort and rest in the secure knowledge that God always guards what is His. His protective desire is for us to be solely focused on Him, because He knows that when we give our affection to anything other than our Creator and source of life, we’re going to end up disappointed and harmed. So His version of jealousy actively works to drive things out of our lives that will only destroy us. Sometimes that comes in the form of painful discipline or withholding something we want, but even when it hurts, we can be assured that His actions are always motivated from a heart of pure love.
If God is for us, who can be against us?