We know God is perfect, but that’s why it is sometimes shocking to hear about God being jealous. What does that mean? And how can we learn from this jealous love of God for our own relationships?
One of the things that is important for us to set up from the beginning on these kinds of discussions is the context in which the word is being used. Most of the times in the Bible where we see God being described as jealous, it seems to be His jealous love of the Israelites and His demand that they worship no gods apart from Him. At first, this seems not that different from how we describe jealous human relationships. After all, if we say someone has a jealous significant other, we normally mean that they want to keep them away from any other people who may be a threat to their relationship. When we look at it a little closer, though, we can see that the motivations couldn’t be much further apart.
When a jealous significant other is trying to keep people away, it is for their own sake. They don’t want to lose the person they “love,” so they keep away all threats, real or imagined, to their relationship. Ultimately, they view the other person as an item which they own, which exists for them and for their joy. When we see God’s jealousy, on the other hand, we see it is an act of protection, not for Himself, since He can’t be hurt, but for His people. He desires our happiness such that He will jealously demand that those false gods which would only bring us harm be avoided.
Here at InkleDeux, Brandon and I have made a point of focusing our efforts on finding ways to hand on what is good, true, and beautiful to the next generation. It seems obvious to me that, if we are going to do that, God’s example is always the one to seek out. In the same way, we have an obligation to be jealous in our defense of the children entrusted to us from those things which are harmful for them. Like God, though, we have to be jealous not for our sake, but for theirs.