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Jealousy vs. Envy

Scot McKnight has some helpful thoughts on the nature of God’s jealousy inspired  by reflections on the second commandment:

God is “jealous” for his love and that is why idol-making is wrong. A little lesson: “I’m sooo jealous” is a commonplace expression today, but it’s an erroneous one most of the time. Most of the time it means “I’m so envious.” We envy what others have; we are jealous of what we have. God is not envious of us and what we are doing. God’s honor is wounded, his glory is clouded, and his love is broken when any of us decides to focus our love and our worship and our allegiance to anyone but God. God is Jealous for his love and for his glory and for his honor.

That the point of idol-making has to do with God’s Jealous love complements what Jesus said: the laws are about either loving God or loving others. The 2d Commandment is about loving God and we don’t love God if our loyalty is split.

I’m not so sure about the language of God’s “honor” being “wounded” but the distinction between envy and jealousy is quite important and helpful.


  1. Anonymous wrote:

    “All in all, is from the love of God; but there is something for God to love; there is a man, there is a soul in that man, there is a will in that soul; and God is in love with this man, and this soul, and this will, and would have it. Non amor ita egenus et indigus, ut rebus quas diligit subjiciatur, says St. Augustine excellently: the love of God to us is not so poor a love, as our love to one another; that his love to us should make him to subject to us, as ours does to them whom we love; but Superfertur, says that father, and our text, he moves above us; he loves us, but with a power, a majestical, an imperial, a commanding love….” (John Donne)

    Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 1:54 pm | Permalink
  2. roger flyer wrote:

    Mmmmmmmm…qualifed yes.

    Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 4:13 pm | Permalink
  3. roger flyer wrote:

    ahhhhhhhhhhhh…i can rest in this love

    Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 4:13 pm | Permalink
  4. Probably the language of God’s honor being wounded is appropriate in an honor-shame culture, like the one for which the Ten Words were originally accommodated.

    Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

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