“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, NLT.
This is one of those passages that, without the Holy Spirit to instruct us, makes scripture look like it is contradictory. Here it says that “love is not jealous”. But “God is love” and God, “whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God”. So what’s up with that? (1 John 4:8; Exodus 34:14)
As I read it this morning, I see the movie “Sleeping with the Enemy” in these words of instruction. You see, God does love us fully, and He is only jealous when we take other gods in His place. For example, God does not mind that I really love and cater to my husband, because He knows my heart has Him in first place even as I love on my man. In fact, it is my love for God that thoroughly equips me to love my man in right ways. But when Father slips to second place in my affections and loyalty, that is what leads to Him becoming jealous over me. I have given myself to Him as my First Love. I belong to Him even before my husband. And He has every right to be jealous when I take that part of me that is His alone and I give it to another.
The jealousy spoken of in 1 Corinthians 13 is not a righteous jealousy, like when God is jealous. It is unreasonable. That type of jealousy says, “If you even look at another, though you are innocent in intent, I will lash out at you with jealous fervor.” This jealousy refuses to trust the love of another. It is suspicious, accusing, and vicious. It has nothing to do with truth or true love, and everything to do with unrighteous possessiveness that too often and easily seeks to rule over the object of its wrath, demanding to be as a god in their lives. It is unreasonable and only truly giving of love to self as it either demands its own way at the expense of the need of the other, or it holds oneself back from the other out of false perceptions that breed insecurity in the relationship.
Unrighteous jealousy can lash out in obvious ways, like the enemy Julia Roberts’ character found herself sleeping with, or it can be more subtle, like so many of us who are sneaky in our ire. Joyce Meyer often tells of when she was jealous of the time her husband spent enjoying sports, how she would decide to vacuum the floor in the room where he was trying to watch a game. We can be sneaky in our jealous tempers, but it is as evil toward the one we profess to love as when those who are overtly jealous beat their mate for their perceived offence, because jealousy of this type breeds discord, hardship, bitterness and anger.
Do I have a right to be jealous if my husband enters into a bad relationship with another woman, or even with an overboard focus on sporting events that rob me of him? You bet I do. We have a license that makes us exclusive as a couple both with God and with man, and we each have right to the others time and attention. There are certain ways in which he is mine alone, and I alone have right to him in those areas of life. There has been a time when I had to warn him that I could tell that another woman was after him, and he was shocked when he discovered it was true. Forewarned was forearmed and he stood faithful. Instead of the other woman’s obvious attraction to my man making me jealous in harmful ways, I knew my rights and was used of God to prepare my mate for the challenge by simply mentioning that she was enamored with him and he needed to be on the alert. I did not badger him or make demands of him. I simply warned him. He was honestly shocked and could not believe it, but when her advances took a clear turn, he was ready with the right response.
My husband went from working mostly with men to a job where he is working with a lot of women and there have been times when I had to deal with the green-eyed monster within; but there have also been times when the jealousy I felt had a righteous seed to it. When he started this job he worked with a very friendly, fun loving man, who was very flirtatious toward women. On one occasion I observed my husband seemingly to fall into that flirtatious fun. Yes, I had to fight off a little jealousy there, and with the Lord’s help, when we were alone, I gently told him that his joking around with them came off to me as flirting. I told him those single women are in the market and that they could well perceive the “fun” as flirting, just as I did, and think he is available, which could end in temptation for him. My husband had an obvious Tim-the-tool-man, aha moment that changed the way he behaves.
Jealousy can be a warning that leads us to realize and take action in protecting our rights, or it can be an ungodly emotion that leads us to behave in ways we have no right to. This emotion we often deal with requires the Spirit of God to instruct us in realizing which jealousy we are in and how to properly address the issue at hand.
So there are two lessons in today’s ponderings:
One, jealousy can be a righteous right, but often is unrighteous and destructive when we fail to get God’s heart on the issue. It is important that we discern the difference and follow God’s example and the Spirit’s lead so we give true love to those around us.
And two, scripture can appear to contradict itself, thus we need the Rabbi-Spirit to instruct our hearts so we know the truth that sets free indeed and realize the continuity of God’s teachings.