Do you know where the term “green with envy” stems from? Shakespeare is credited with the English idiom in Othello. Before he came along to make it popular, the Greeks are thought to have associated it with bile. That icky feeling in one’s stomach when envy is stirred likely gave it a nasty green color.
I’m not a stranger to green with envy. I know that rolling feeling inside. However, while Scripture describes envy as the rottenness of the bones (Proverbs 14:30), surprisingly jealousy at times is described in a positive light.
The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 11, talks about jealousy of a much nicer color. Paul calls it divine jealousy.
“For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Cor. 11:2-3 (ESV)
I’ve been reading through Deuteronomy, at the same time paging forward to Paul’s writings. Fascinating parallels tie them together. But one thing stands out. Godly jealousy is a precious demonstration of love.
As a Dad protects the virtue of his daughter or a husband protects the exclusivity of the marriage relationship, God never
“For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” Deut. 4:24 (ESV)
God never allows the teensiest space for another god to occupy the throne alongside Him.
“…for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God…”, Ex. 34:14 (ESV)
“For they provoked him to anger with their high places; they moved him to jealousy with their idols.” Psalm 78:58
The Corinthian church had issues not unlike the body of Christ today. They scorned Paul, tried to tear him down, discredit and undermine credibility. As a spiritual father to them, he was concerned with a much deeper problem than personal dishonor. His heart beat with jealous love for Jesus whose love drove Him to die on a tree.
“For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.” 2 Cor. 11:4 (ESV)
- Another Jesus.
- A different spirit.
- A different gospel.
The early church faced false teachers, we do too. But the problem that stirred divine jealousy within Paul was how “readily enough” the church put up with it.
- Perhaps they didn’t want to make waves.
- Perhaps they were ignorant of sound doctrine.
- Perhaps their faith wasn’t rooted deeply in the gospel.
- Perhaps they didn’t love Christ enough.
- Perhaps they didn’t really care.
- Perhaps all of the above.
And perhaps in an effort to still dissension and be accepted in culture we also easily put up with what hurts the heart of God, and in the process dethrones Him from our lives.
Paul’s godly affection harmonizes the tender love of our heavenly Father, our husbandman to the bride, his church.
perhaps in an effort to still dissension and be accepted in culture we also easily put up with what hurts the heart of God, and in the process dethrones Him from our lives.
A mutating virus can be deadly. It changes slightly from the original. It mimics what once was and spreads rapidly.
God’s Word does not mutate like a virus to a changing society.
The Corinthian church affirmed and embraced things distinctly in opposition to God’s word. And they did it seemingly without discretion or push back.
When another Jesus is proclaimed in ways opposing God’s Word, breathed by a different spirit, then a different gospel follows.
God’s divine jealousy for His people is perfect and sinless. It is mirrored in our tenderest earthly relationships. It is holy and loving.
“A sincere and pure devotion to Christ,” calls us from easy acceptance of false teaching to a firm faith. It redefines love and distinguishes it from sentiment. Nurtured and trained through the Word of God, we cling to an undefiled gospel. We hold tight to Jesus.
Divine jealousy for you and for me bled from a cross where redemption was bought, terrible and violent yet beautiful and priceless.
The thought of God as a jealous God used to bother me, recently I’ve found it instead to be a sweet comfort.
That God would be jealous for me and my undiluted affection so important to Him, is a precious proof of His divine love indescribable. How can I not respond in humble homage?