I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.2 Corinthians 11:2
Perhaps the most vicious and destructive quality in the world today is jealousy. It has been properly called
the green-eyed monster. Jealousy is an angry, strong, powerful emotion that refuses to tolerate a rival. It can be a very powerful motivator to aggressive action. It is one of the most frequent causes for broken homes, broken hearts, and broken bodies in the world today. Yet amazingly, God declares in the book of Exodus,
I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God (Exodus 20:5). All through the Scriptures there is this emphasis upon the jealousy of God. If jealousy is so bad, why is God jealous? Here Paul says that he feels a
godly jealousy for these people. Surely that indicates that jealousy can be both good and bad. So when you feel jealous of someone, you have to ask yourself,
Is my jealousy a rightful one, or is it false? The difference is right here: False jealousy is always selfish. It is concerned with your own feelings. It is possessive, and it wants to control another person. It is therefore often dominating and even cruel and tyrannical. It usurps the rights of others and insists on its own way. It is imposed upon someone else whether that person likes it or not. Because it is so vicious in its cruelty and its tyranny, jealousy perhaps is the most destructive force in the world today.
A true jealousy, a godly jealousy, on the other hand, as Paul felt for the Corinthians, is one that arises from a deep passion for the welfare of another. It becomes careless of self, and it is always manifested in a tenderness and a thoughtfulness about someone else. It may never cease, because it is a powerful motive, just like the jealousy in both God's and Paul's hearts. Paul likens his jealousy to that of a father who has betrothed his daughter to a young bridegroom. Throughout history, fathers have had the privilege of giving their daughters away in marriage, and this is symbolized today when, in a wedding ceremony, the father walks down the aisle with the bride. Every father (I speak from experience) longs to be able to present his daughter, having raised her in a careful, nurturing home, as a chaste and lovely virgin to the young man she loves. This is a rather startling analogy to use about these Corinthians, for we saw in 1 Corinthians 6 their impure backgrounds. There Paul tells us that some of them had been adulterers, immoral people, homosexuals, thieves, drunkards, robbers, and cut-throats.
And that is what some of you were, he said (1 Corinthians 6:11a). And yet now he says,
[I have desired] to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
Lord, teach me to see the difference between godly jealousy and that which is selfish. Let me love others with the same fierce passion with which You have loved me.
God is passionately jealous for the Good of His own people. Are we being freed from damaging our relationships with self-focused jealousy?