Our natural reaction to the idea of jealousy is to think of it as envious of what others have which we do not have. But, there is a very different kind of jealousy that is part of God’s nature. God refers to Himself as a “jealous God” (Exodus 20:5; 34:10-17; Deuteronomy 4:23-24).
Of the five references in the N.T. to the word “jealous”, there is one I wish to draw your attention to. It is in the epistle to the Corinthians which reminds us of Paul’s strong and pointed ministry to this church. He had invested his life in them and suffered unjust criticism, misunderstanding, and false accusations. Despite all that, he still loved them intensely and never gave up on them. He took on the responsibility of their spiritual growth. He worked with them that they might put off their pride and lack of moral back-bone and become mature in Christ.
“I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:1–2). Paul says that he has “divine (godly) jealousy” for their spiritual growth and protection from deception. It was not self-serving, self-motivated jealousy. His purpose in nurturing this church was for one thing -- that they should be the bride of Christ -- for nothing and for no one else.
This kind of concern for the spiritual maturity of those we serve and fellowship with needs to be much more real and intense as we disciple others. As with the Corinthians, there are forces at work in our churches that work against maturity or derail their growth by human programs and outright false teaching. Paul is very specific about why he carried this concern; “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” (11:3). Is this our concern for others? The issue is not denominational forms or tradition. It’s what belongs to Christ and brings Him glory and praise.
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