Looking at the Subject of Jealousy from a Different Angle

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“They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities; and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.” (Deuteronomy 32:21/KJV).

There has been a special relationship between God and the people of Israel. God covenanted with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God also covenanted with the Israelites at Mount Sinai when they were given the law.

A covenant is a mutual relationship by which both partners agree to fulfil certain requirements and of which both parties have some benefit. In the bible the relationship between God and his people is described as such a kind of relationship. A marriage relationship also is a type of covenant.

Now here God is concerned about the fact that the Israelites had betrayed him with other gods. Rather than trusting their God they had gone so far to worship other deities. Had God done any wrong to them? Would God not bless them if they faithfully trusted him?

Here God says that the Israelites had provoked him to jealousy. Therefore God also would make his people jealous by Blessing “those which are not a people”.

In Romans 10:19 Paul quotes this verse of scripture. He takes it to refer to God’s calling of Gentiles to believe him through Christ. God had blessed Christian believers from heathen nations to show the Israelites how good he is. He wanted to make it clear to the people of Israel that he had good intentions also for them if only they would return to him and trust him.

God is trying to evoke feelings of envy and jealousy from his people of Israel. He wanted them to sense that these blessings really were what God had promised to them.

Now of course the Israelites would not need to get bitter about God blessing Gentile Christian believers. God is rich enough and can abundantly bless both Christians and Israelites. Only God is trying to incite his people to go for the riches of his grace.

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I am writing this in a series of posts on jealousy and envy. We may get such feelings at times.

Yet the question is: What are we going to make of these emotions? Are they guiding us to good or evil?

If we should envy others for their success, maybe this could move us to give our best. If we should see others blessed by God, God may be trying to tell us that he richly loves us. He would bestow us with many gifts if we would only diligently seek him.

We don’t need to give ourselves to bitter envy, because God has good intentions for all of us. We all are different and God has individual and loving purposes for each of us.
Jesus has come to give us life abundantly (cf. John 10:10b). “But it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9/KJV).

Christians don’t need to bitterly run after earthly gain. God has riches for those who believe, that cannot be robbed from them (cf. Matthew 6:20).

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Concerning Roots and Consequences of Jealousy

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In Romans chapter 1 the apostle Paul gives another list of vices. Jealousy is also included.

“Furthermore, since they did not think it worth while, to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things, but also approve of those who practise them.” (Romans 1:28-32/NIV).

This is a description of heathen men in the days of the apostle and in Old Testament times. It does not mean that every single individual among the gentiles was involved in all of this. Yet all these practices and attitudes occurred among those nations.

The root cause of all these sins is that man turned away from God. At one stage after the fall in paradise, man began to worship other gods. They did not want to honour their creator anymore. This also led them to turn against other men that were originally created in the image of God.

They began to worship images and certain animals as their gods. The priorities in their thinking changed.

What you worship in many ways determines how you think and how you behave. What you hold in high esteem guides you in developing attitudes and in taking decisions.
I find it interesting how St. Paul is grouping vices he mentions. He puts ‘envy’ together with ‘murder, strife, deceit and malice’. Jealousy unleashed could easily lead to all of these.

What you hold in honour and high esteem guides you in establishing your value system. It is good to keep this in mind.

The God of the bible is presented as a God of Love. He likes men to love each other even as they love themselves.

In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul is devoting a whole chapter to Christian love. Love is to be a supreme goal for individual Christian living and for church life.

Paul describes love. Envy, he says, is not an aspect of love (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:4).

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