NOT Jealous: This is love marker 3 in our Summer Love series!
Do you want to grow in your marriage? Enjoy these blog posts by guest author Pastor Matthew Black of Living Hope Church in suburban Chicago. Pastor Matt kindly let us excerpt sections of a chapter in his forthcoming book The Marriage Enrichment Book. –Ed.
Love is not jealous.
To be jealous means “to experience strong envy and resentment against someone.” In Maximum Impact: Living and Loving for God’s Glory, author and counselor Wayne Mack goes further: “Envy consists of a disposition of dissatisfaction or dislike over the fact or thought that someone seems to be ahead of us or above us or superior to us in honor, position, respect, success, possessions, or effectiveness.”
“She has it so easy as a woman,” says the husband.
“Well he has it so easy as a man,” says the wife.
There is often jealous resentment in marriage. A person growing in Christ isn’t going to be jealous of other people’s position, personality or spiritual gifts.
Jealousy Can Be Positive or Negative
The word translated “jealous” means to eagerly desire, and it is used both positively and negatively in the Bible. Positively, it’s good to be eagerly desire for God’s glory and the good of others. God is jealous – in righteousness He protects His glory.
But Paul is using it here in 1 Corinthians 13 negatively. The jealous person wants what others have, he wants things for himself. He is too selfish to applaud others’ success; he desires to have all the attention.
Jealousy in the Home
We are prone to be possessive. As a husband, I might have a job that allows me to spend time with people, and my wife may feel “trapped” at home with the children all day, resentful that I get to be out and about. Or, I may be stuck in a cubicle or in a truck all day, and I might be jealous that my wife has the freedom to be at home raising our children.
When we focus on circumstances that don’t seem to be fair, it’s easy to fall into the jealousy trap. Love is not jealous over the privileges and gifts and positions that God gives each of us. Love realizes that the positions and privileges of life are given by God and to complain about my spouse’s privileges is a discontentment with God.
Jealousy Is Destructive and Dangerous
Jealousy is “a strong feeling of possessiveness, often caused by the possibility that something which belongs, or ought to belong, to one is about to be taken away.” When someone is addicted to their own importance, they become jealous, and that’s dangerous.
- Jealousy is so powerful that it led Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery and leave him for dead.
- Jealousy led King Saul to hunt down and try to kill David over and over again. Saul had a thirst to protect his own position and his own gifts.
Jealousy is destructive. James says that jealousy is often the source of quarrels and conflicts (James 4:2).
Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice (James 3:16).
In the family, a husband might be eagerly desire respect and is easily insulted.
“Why can’t you treat me like so and so treats her husband?”
Or the wife says, “Why can’t you treat me like this man treats his wife?”
Cup of Jealousy Has No Bottom
The cup of jealousy has no bottom. It can never be satisfied. If you have a covetous, resentful, envious heart, then you need to rest in Christ. Only Christ can satisfy your needs.
Only when you know Christ can you be jealous in a good way. We need to be jealous for the glory of God and jealous for the good of others. Godly ambition is fine, but selfish ambition is destructive.
Sinful jealousy is nothing more than selfishness. But to be jealous for God’s glory and for another’s good is a virtue. Let’s not be protective of our glory and usefulness and position.
I ought to use my position to serve my spouse. I have no right to complain. Every day I deserve hell, but I get God’s mercy. Everything is a gift. Love is not jealous of my spouse’s position or personality or place in the home. Love is grateful and glories in God’s generosity.
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