God is not Envious
In 1 Corinthians 13 we find the Apostle Paul giving us the definition of what love is. We understand that God is love (1 John 4:7). Since God is love, we can read 1 Corinthians 13 by replacing the word love with the word God. In this way, we can see the true nature of our Heavenly Father.
In today’s blog I want to look at the first “negative of love.” This is the first time we see what love isn’t. The verse starts out by saying love is patient, love is kind. The third description is love is not envious (or jealous depending on which translation you use). Since God is love and love is not envious, then God is not envious.
Now this can get a bit tricky if you use a translation that says love is not jealous and read that to say God is not jealous. I hear your mental wheels turning now. I hear you saying that the OT says that God is jealous, and you are completely right (Exodus 34:14). So, how can God tell us not to be jealous and yet He is? That’s a good question.
The first thing I would like to show is that the correct wording here should be envious. The word envious means to burn with zeal. Burning with zeal can be a good thing as well as a bad thing. In the bad sense, it means to be heated or to boil. Therefore, when one is envious they are heated with hatred, anger or jealousy over someone’s possession or accomplishments.
The main problem with envy is that it is always rooted in selfishness. One can be jealous for someone and it can be a good thing (more on this later). However, one can never be envious of someone without there being selfishness involved. Believe me, I know this personally. Pastors can be some of the most envious people around. We get envious over another pastor’s success or attendance numbers or budget. We want their success. This is rooted in our own selfishness, our desire to succeed and ideas of success. We believe that a sign of success is to have more, to always be getting bigger or to be able to draw a larger crowd. It’s called envy when we get jealous of another pastor’s success.
Envy always keeps one in receive mode. When you are envious of someone, you cannot receive from them. It stops the relationship and love is always about the relationship. Authentic love does not desire that which someone else has.
Because love is not envious, we have to understand that God doesn’t want what you have. He wants a relationship with you. So many Christians feel that God is always asking them to give Him their stuff. It’s not your stuff He is after…..it is you!
God is jealous over you not because of you! God wants your heart….not your life!
Please understand that last statement. God doesn’t want your life in the sense of making all your decisions and telling you what to do all the time. Like a good father, He wants to share life with you. What kind of father would I be if I tried to live my life through my kids, constantly telling them to do what I wanted? How strange it would sound for my kids to tell their friends every day that they are giving their father their lives. I don’t want them from them. I want their hearts. I want to share their lives. As their father I want them to have the desires of their heart, just like our Father wants us to have the desires of our hearts. He just wants us to delight ourselves in Him, just like I want my kids to delight in me as their father.
Our Father doesn’t ask for our lives back in mindless servitude. He asks us to join Him in a love relationship in which He gives more than He takes. He is after your heart, not your life. He wants you to enjoy life and have it more abundantly. Only an envious god would give you life only to demand it back.
God cannot be envious because He doesn’t need anything that you have. Therefore, He can freely give to you and be happy about your success because He isn’t jealous over what you have. He gives us blessings because of His great love for us. He simply wants us to respond with gratitude and love. He is jealous over you, not because of you.
The reason that God is jealous over you is because of His great love for you. I understand that because I have two daughters. I know that one day they will find some young man that will capture their heart. I want them to find the right young man that will treat them right and take care of them. I am jealous over them because of their great value to me. I certainly am not jealous of them. God is the same with us. He is jealous over us because He wants the best for us and doesn’t want us to get hurt.
So, what do you think?