Beware of Jesus’ Jealousy
“Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
—James 4:4, emphasis added
In yesterday’s devotional, we saw that no one can serve two masters. In James, God strongly tells us that Jesus is so jealous of us that He does not want us to have friendship with the world. I am not talking about having friends that are unsaved, but loving the world system. In other words, Jesus does not want us to get involved in things that make us forget Him. He does not want the world to be on our minds all the time. He does not want us to be willing to sacrifice for it. He does not want the world, and all that is in it, to block Him out.
Before marriage, in order to have a relationship, you must be selective: you cannot have a relationship with just anyone—only one person. You aggressively pursue the one you love, and this is to continue on into marriage. Thus, God is saying, “You are married to Me, so you cannot be out dating anymore.”
Did you know that one of the prime characteristics of God is jealousy? We humans believe that jealousy is bad and, from a human standpoint, it indeed can be. But because God is perfect, His jealousy is also perfect. Exodus 20:5 says that you shall not bow down to them nor serve them [the gods of this world]. For I am a jealous God. (See also Exodus 34:14 and Deuteronomy 4:24.)
God truly wants us to listen to Jesus (Matthew 22:37-38). We should therefore regularly examine our focus by asking these questions: Who or what is my God? What is the center of my life? What do I rely on?
Worldliness is not so much a matter of activity, but of attitude. A Christian can stay away from questionable amusements and places and still love the world, for worldliness is a matter of the heart. Worldliness not only affects our response to the love of God, but also affects our response to the will of God: If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15; see also 2:17). Doing the will of God is a joy for those living in the love of God (John 15:14), but when a believer loses his or her enjoyment of the Father’s love, it will be hard to obey His will. Combining those two factors leads to this practical definition of worldliness: Worldliness is anything in a Christian’s life that causes him to lose his enjoyment of the Father’s love or his desire to do the Father’s will.
The extent to which we fail to respond to the Father’s love (our personal devotional life), and fail to do the Father’s will (our daily conduct), is the degree of worldliness that has entrapped us. Always remember: if we fraternize with the world, we become enemies with God.
At the end of an incredible life, the apostle John wrote some interesting words. He had met and followed Jesus as a very young man. After those climactic days of the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and birth of the church, John had outlived all the apostles. The very last thing that he wrote to us was this warning: Little children, keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5:21). We don’t have Ashteroths and Baals, but we do have plenty of modern-day idols that God has always condemned.
Our careers, jobs, occupations, or even today’s technology can become idols. You might ask, “The Bible talks about that?” Yes, God is vitally interested in all that we fill our brief lives with as we journey heavenward: They take up all of them with a hook, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their dragnet. Therefore they rejoice and are glad. Therefore they sacrifice to their net, and burn incense to their dragnet; because by them their share is sumptuous and their food plentiful (Habakkuk 1:15-16).
That passage refers to worship of the occupation that brings work, the job that brings the income, the career that brings success, and the technology that brings pleasure. Worship is thinking about something or someone all the time. You shouldn’t know the stock market, sports statistics, or the latest hit tune better than you know God’s Word. Habakkuk 1:15 says that it is idolatry to sacrifice to our net. The net is just a tool, but we will lose our first love if we start worshiping that tool.
Our appetites and desires can become idols. Some people live to satiate themselves, like the rich fool of Luke 12:19 whose motto was to “eat, drink, and be merry.” Philippians 3:18-19 says that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Therefore, their destiny is destruction; their god is their stomach (a reference to all physical desires, not just to food); and their glory is in their shame because their mind is on earthly things.
Money can become an idol. The book of Job, written sometime after the Flood, is the oldest book in the Bible. Job said that if he put his security in money (or even nature), instead of the Creator, he could not worship the Most High God: “If I have said to pure gold, ‘You are my security,’ if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, if I have regarded the sun or the moon so that my heart was secretly enticed and my hand offered them a kiss of homage, then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high” (Job 31:24-28, NIV).
At the Transfiguration, suddenly a voice came out of the cloud saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:5-6, emphasis added). Because God never changes, that command still stands. God the Father, who is a jealous God, expects us to heed whatever His Son says to us, and in James 4:4 Jesus has told us that “Whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Whom do you worship? The modern idols of this world—or God? Remember: no man can serve two masters.
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