God is jealous for you, but what does that mean? What impact does his jealousy have on your life? With the new year starting, what does God want from you this year? Read on to find out!
Happy New Year! January is a time when we often focus on the future, don’t we? We dream and hope and think of what we’d like to see happen in the coming year. Some of us make resolutions; we make plans.
If we are wise, we also stop and ponder what God wants to do this year. What are his plans for us? What changes does he want to make in our lives in the coming months?
As I’ve reflected over the past year and spent a bit time looking forward to the year ahead, I have been convicted of the fact that there is one thing God wants this year more than many others.
And you, actually.
Over and over again, Scripture reminds us that God is a jealous god, but what does that actually mean?
I don’t know about you, but I happen to know a thing or two about jealousy. I am a second child, after all. Jealousy can consume us, can’t it? If we let it, jealousy can drive and direct us; it can motivate and move us. Our actions become dictated by our desires.
I wonder if God’s jealousy works the same way.
You see, from the very beginning, he told his people, “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” (Exodus 20:5)
He wanted their full attention, their constant devotion. He left room for no other alternatives, commanding his people not to make idols or bow down to others.
And when they did? His anger burned against them.
What’s the difference between our jealousy and God’s?
Now, please know that I am not comparing my selfish tendencies to the holy jealousy of God. God’s jealousy never leads him into temptation. Mine almost always does. Remember what James wrote: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want so you quarrel and fight.” (James 4:1-2)
When jealousy runs rampant in our lives, we look out only for ourselves.
In contrast, God’s jealousy is not just about his glory. It’s about his goodness, too.God's jealousy is not just about his glory. It's about his goodness, too. Click To Tweet
In Deuteronomy 32:21, God says, “They made me jealous by what is no god and angered me with their worthless idols.”
God desires for his people to worship him alone, and I think it’s for his glory and our good.
I remember a time when I saw a temple devotee cleaning up sacrifices to her gods, serving them day and night. I was heartbroken for her and thankful for a God who cleans up my messes and not the other way around, for a God who takes care of me and meets my needs.
How much more does our devotion to worthless idols hurt the heart of him who rules all things?
Another difference between my jealousy and God’s is the fact that I am often jealous of things to which I have no right. I envy the success of others or the gifts they’ve been given.
God is jealous for things that rightfully belong to him.
Joel 2:18 says, “Then the Lord was jealous for his land.”
The land belonged to him. He had every right to it. In Zechariah 8:2, he said, “I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her.”
And do you know what he promised to Zion: Blessing.
Abundant blessing to the object of his desire, to his people.
That’s one of the major differences between his jealousy and mine. When my human heart is jealous, I tend to take. Jealousy in God’s heart leads to giving.When my human heart is jealous, I tend to take. Jealousy in God's heart leads to giving. Click To Tweet
His desire for his people led to his greatest gift of all: Jesus.
In Ezekiel 34, we see that God’s people had been led astray. Those appointed to look after them were only looking out for themselves. The people of God needed a shepherd so God sent one.
“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his great mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:3-6)
If God is jealous, how should we live?
So how should we live now? How do we respond to a jealous God who gives so graciously?
“In your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord.” (1 Peter 3:15)
It’s one thing to say that Christ is Lord, but we have to make sure of it. Whether we like to admit it or not, sometimes he doesn’t actually have first place in our hearts. We might not even realize it at times because he simply gets crowded out by other obligations. We too busy to bow down, don’t we?
My husband used to have a to-do list taped to his bedroom door. It simply said:
- Deny Yourself
- Take Up Your Cross
- Follow Christ.
Y’all, it really is that simple, which is what makes it so profoundly important. When Jesus said, “If any many would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me,” he meant it. (Luke 9:23)
It’s a daily decision this following Christ, this act of putting him first.
I’ll be honest, he’s often pushed out of his place before I have my first cup of coffee in the morning. My mind is already focused on other things; my heart is already filled with other things to follow.
Unless I stop and make a conscious effort to keep him at the center of all I do, that’s not always where he’ll be.
I’ll find myself struggling to do do things in my own strength when “I can do all things through Christ.” (Philippians 4:13)
My efforts will fall short because he said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
I will forget my first love. Like the church in Laodicea, God will say, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!” (Revelation 3:15)
When I need wisdom, I won’t have it because I haven’t stopped to ask “God, who gives generously to all without finding fault.” (James 1:5)
That’s not the life I want, and it isn’t the life God wants for me!
So if I have a resolution this year, it’s to take my husband’s to-do list and make it my own. I believe that is what God wants from me, not just as a new year’s resolution but as a way of life.
What about you? How do you plan to follow Christ more closely this year? I’ve started a new Bible study, which is helping me get back into the habit of daily spending time in God’s word. Do you have one you would recommend? Share it with us in the comments!
Also, be sure to participate in this week’s Encouraging Word Wednesday Link-Up! I can’t wait to read your posts!