So begins a very beautiful song by well-known group. And it is reflective of something I’ve been thinking about the last month–the jealousy of God.
In the Old Testament we read that one of the names of God is “Jealous” (Ex 34:14) And pretty much when God’s jealousy is referred to in relation to God, it is in the context of worship. God is jealous for our worship and he will allow no other lovers. None.
We find this reality again in James 4:5. People were envying the ways of the world and it was causing fights and arguments among them. But God makes it clear–he will not tolerate any other loves. “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God” (Jms 4:4)? “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely” (Jms 4:5)? Other translations render this “jealousy.”
God is jealous. Not only does he not want me to engage in immoral activity outside of this covenant relationship, he has no toleration for flirting. To be a friend of the world is to have “hatred toward God and to be his “enemy” (Jms 4:4). Strong words. I have no desire to be an enemy of God. That’s a rough day.
And yet in the church I see greed openly manifest, envy to get ahead wrecking relationships, couples living together, etc… Is there any other way in which we could more befriend the world? And I look at my own heart. The reality is that I too find myself envying what the life of the ungodly. And that’s dangerous ground. Fortunately one of the most beautiful pictures of repentance and God’s heart towards the repentant is right here in James 4:5-10–“He gives us more grace…come near to God and he will come near to you…humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.”
And at the end of the day the reality of God’s jealousy is something I find comforting. It tells of his fierce love for me. Fierce enough that he has no tolerance for flirting, and at the same time will offer grace and forgiveness when needed. That’s a safe place to be.
As the song goes…
“He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.
And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all”