It's definitely not by accident that our pastor had been preaching on envy/jealousy for three weeks, our women's Bible study lesson last week was on "Taming the Green-Eyed Monster" and our guest pastor's focus this week was on God as Jealous. If you weren't tracking before, this isn't something you could miss! So, as I enjoyed a bike ride on Sunday evening, I began asking God what He wants to show me about jealousy...both my sinful kind and His perfect kind. As the Israelites were looking to enter the Promised Land, they were warned not to acclimate with the people there--through their idols, through marriage--for this would become a snare in their midst. God tells them this about Himself:
But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images "for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifices to their gods, and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice. Exodus 34: 13-15
Just to be clear for those of you wondering, God's jealousy is not sinful. Indeed, God is perfect and His jealousy is perfect. While there are certain things that I might be allowed to be jealous for--my husband, my children's hearts--my sinful flesh messes it up every time.
God is jealous for us and this is why we have the commandment: "You shall have no other gods before Me." As I devote my time to other things, even other people, I remove my adoration and praise from Him onto them. Clearly, we are to love our husbands and children, but when that love turns to crazy-woman wife or crazy-woman mama, that's a perfect example of placing praise on someone (or thing) other than God.
I've been praying that God would show me where I've misplaced my adoration. As He is righteously jealous for me, I desire to be more jealous for Him. There are so many ways that my eyes dart to the left and to the right rather than remain fixed upon Jesus. While I can be sad about a favorite actor passing, it becomes an idol for me when I spend hours watching video clips of his best work. While I can be loyal and fierce about my marriage, it becomes an idol for me when I demand my husband's time over his commitments to provide for our family or even minister to important needs outside of the family. It's a difficult balance and we must remain in close contact with God through prayer in order to fight sin, particularly jealousy.
So, I was most struck by the sermon on Sunday when the idea of family becoming god was explored. Sure, I know this is frequently the case, whether you're a Christian or not, we can easily begin worshiping our children or the family unit in general. But, it got personal when I was asking God how I can be more jealous for Him. As I face my first child entering into a relationship with a young lady and moving toward her and away from us, I've been surprised at how difficult this has been for me. How I wish I could do this all seamlessly, but I have been a dreadful mess most of the time. While praying, I realized more and more that I've been making my own ideas my god. Instead of trusting in our good God for His peace and perfect plan, I've been exalting fear and MY wisdom. I've been leaning on my own understanding rather than trusting God with all my heart.
I encourage you to spend some time asking God how you can be more jealous for Him. What would change in your life? How would you spend your time? What thoughts would you need to surrender? Perhaps all of the frittering and fretting would melt into peace and joy if we were more jealous for our God, whose name is Jealous.