Grateful for his Jealousy

Jealous emoticon

Exodus 20:5 “I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God…”

Ordinarily when we think about jealousy, we think of it as a negative, and even sinful, emotion. It reveals a possessiveness, a self-serving concern, that leads people to say and do some very unloving things. Adultery, murder, and theft have all been committed in the name of jealousy.

It is entirely different if God is possessive of you and me. We belong to him in ways that no human being belongs to another. In fact, God’s claim on each of us is two-fold.

First, he is the one who created us and all things. We are the work of his hands. He provided the stuff from which we are made, and he has carefully and lovingly put us together in special and unique ways. He gave us minds which can think of incredible things, and bodies which can move and work in exciting and useful ways. Watching my children grow and develop reminded me of the miraculous way in which God put our bodies together. I watched them learn to crawl for the first time, saw them begin to grasp all the exciting possibilities which open up in the ability to move from place to place. As simple as it is, all of this comes from God, who made us. It is part of the reason that we are his.

But his second claim on us is much more costly, and much more dear. God has redeemed us. Even though we already belonged to him, he has paid a price so costly that no value could ever be put upon it. When we had turned away from him in sin and rebellion, he gave up the life and the blood of his only Son, in payment for our sin: just so that you might be his very own, and just so that I might be his very own, again. There is no greater sacrifice he could have given, no higher value that he could have placed upon us, so that we might be his people, and he might be our God.

Of course, since our first parents fell into sin, there has always been competition for our love and attention. For God’s people Israel it was especially the rival gods of their pagan neighbors. For us the rival gods have taken more subtle forms. They are turbocharged, or five-bedroom, or ultra high definition, or fixed rate of interest, or suitable for mature audiences only. They would like to have you, too. And do you know what they are willing to sacrifice for you? Nothing.

And so, doesn’t God have a right to be jealous for our love and attention, in light of all he has done for us? Doesn’t he show that he is serious about being your God, with all that it entails? Wouldn’t we be the greatest fools not to take him seriously, especially when we consider all his kindness to us?

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