This week on the pandemic front, I encountered a new enemy. And it all started because a senator from Texas got a haircut. Now, normally this would not be news. When’s the last time headlines proclaimed the personal grooming choices of a person? The problem for me isn’t that a Senator got a haircut. But that he was able to get one. It may be a month before I can get my shaggy head trimmed in Illinois, while Texas is now allowing those businesses to open. I’m jealous, and that is my new enemy.
I don’t know about you, but jealousy can be an ugly emotion leading to all kinds of trouble and wrong choices. Jealousy can ruin our finances as we try to keep up appearances with others. It can separate friends when they get something we feel we deserve. Jealousy reveals our hidden idols, those things we keep to ourselves. It can even wreck our faith when our prayers seem to go unanswered while God blesses others.
In the next few weeks, our love is going to be challenged through the temptation of jealously. As some countries and states and regions enjoy increasing freedom while others lag behind beware jealousy. Remember, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,” (1 Corinthians 13:4, NASB95) Sounds easy, but it’s not.
But we have a problem. If love isn’t jealous, why does scripture portray God as a jealous God, Exodus 34:14, and others? Jealousy can have two motives. What we most often connect with jealousy is coveting, strongly desiring what someone else has. But it also can have a protective motive, which is what we see in God. For instance, the command, “for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14, NASB95) is for our protection not because God is coveting of the worship given to idols.
If you’re one of the fortunate that can get a haircut or sit down at a restaurant or have a job, then rejoice. But don’t brag about it. Arrogance stirs the jealousy of others and is not an action of love. If you’re like me and have to wait while others find renewed freedom, then rejoice. Jealously is not an act of love, and as many Old Testament stories show, it always leads to something ugly. Cain was jealous, leading to murder. Joseph’s brothers were jealous, leading to slavery and deceit.
The antidote for jealously is joy. This is true whether we’re in the middle of a stay at home pandemic or going about our normal lives. Love rejoices when something amazing happens to someone else. And even if there isn’t much to be joyful about, and sometimes there isn’t, Paul admonishes us to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4, NASB95) Even if we are jailed unfairly like Paul, we can rejoice in Christ. Even if a Senator gets a haircut because his state is open, I can rejoice with him and look forward to when I can get one too.