Jealousy automatically comes across as a bad word. It’s known for making one look petty and destroying relationships.
The Bible even warns about jealousy and its consuming effects, holding it up against other sins such as murder and adultery and pride. It compares it to the grave and rotting bones.
“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord.” (Song of Solomon 8:6)
“For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.” (Mark 7:21-22)
“A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” (Proverbs 14:30)
But there’s also such a thing as healthy jealousy. The Lord Himself demonstrates that for us.
“Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the Lord your God has forbidden you. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” (Deuteronomy 4:23-24)
Multiple references in the Old Testament portray God as jealous. We know that God is holy and sinless, therefore, it is possible for jealousy to not be a negative trait. Paul also referenced healthy jealousy when writing to the church in Corinth.
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 11:2)
Paul felt protective of the new converts in Corinth and was jealous for them to stay true to the vows of their commitment with Christ. Likewise, in proper context, a measure of jealousy in marriage can remind both spouses they have something valuable they should protect. Jealousy is not automatically a sin—it’s a feeling. What turns a feeling into sin is the motivations of the heart, and when we react to the feeling with sinful behavior.
Unfortunately, most jealousy issues in marriages today don’t come from a godly place, but rather are a result of sin.
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