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Is Being Jealous Bad? (Part 2)

By sis Bernice Loh

Being jealous is not always bad and there are instances in the Bible when being jealous is righteous and justifiable.

Righteous jealousy can refer to:

  1. Jealousy of a spouse - In marriage, the wife’s body belongs exclusively to her husband, and vice versa (1 Corinthians 7:4). Hence, it is justifiable for one to feel jealous when our spouse gives their affection to another person and commits adultery (Proverbs 6:34).

  2. Godly jealousy - In 2 Corinthians 11:2 Paul writes “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Paul wanted to jealously guard (i.e. protect) the purity of the Christians and prevent them from being corrupted by false teachers.

  3. God, as a jealous God - Exodus 34:14 “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:”We have been redeemed by God with a price (which God Himself paid) and hence belong to God (1 Cor 6:19-20): “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” As such, God is provoked to jealousy if we choose to worship false gods (1 Corinthians 10:22).

A denominational author by the name of Paul Maxwell writes, “Through jealousy, the deepest desires of our hearts are elicited and amplified”.

Perhaps we may be able to ascertain if our jealousy is bad by examining the desire behind it. For example, it is clear that being jealous is bad if our jealousy arose from:

  1. Our desire to enjoy a pre-eminent status in our career, social groups, congregation;

  2. Our desire to receive the praise, admiration, or even envy of others; or

  3. Our desire to receive more material rewards because we view ourselves as more deserving as compared to the “more sinful” people.

For these are hardly spiritual goals that faithful Christians should be working towards. Pursuing such desires, and harbouring the feelings of jealousy that arises, will bring us further away from our goal of reaching heaven.

In conclusion, while we strive to put aside the worldly desires that give rise to bad jealousy/envy, we should also consider whether we have the correct desires that produce godly jealously. Are we often caught up with worldly envy, or do we look to be jealous for God and the truth of His word?

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