Jealousy has a poor reputation that is usually earned. There is a positive side to it. It’s protective and watchful. It’s being deeply committed to seeking the honor or welfare of someone (oneself or another).
Look at it in the context of marriage. Do you want your husband or wife to be committed to your welfare, or another person’s? Aren’t you protective of your relationship?
What about being jealous of your reputation? Your name? It’s more of a big deal in honor/shame cultures. Though I’ve seen the most individualistic people I know bristle at “disrespect.”
The Bible shows God to be jealous in this way. He continually protects his honor. In Exodus 20:4-5, God commands, “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…”
How Can We Define God’s Jealousy
God’s jealousy as defined means that God continually seeks to protect his honor.
We tend to neither like or understand the thought of God being jealous. It’s because our jealousy for our own honor is almost always wrong.
We are to be humble, not proud. There are not “self-made people.” They took the materials and talents they had and honed them. It was already there.
The theological reason that pride is wrong is that we don’t deserve the honor that belongs to God only.
“For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” 1 Corinthians 4:7
“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.”
It’s not wrong to seek deserved honor. An example, you work really hard on a project, and your boss notices the excellent work. Then someone else takes the credit and the praise for your project’s success.
We take credit for God’s success even though we don’t like it when others take credit for our success.
Isaiah 48:8-11 tells us that God’s actions in creation and redemption are for His honor.
“Well do I know how treacherous you are;
you were called a rebel from birth.
For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath;
for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you,
so as not to destroy you completely.
See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.
How can I let myself be defamed?
I will not yield my glory to another.”
It’s spiritually healthy to realize that God deserves all honor and glory from His creation. It’s right for him to seek His honor. Everything good He created, and He wants to hold onto it when He can just as quickly do away with it.
God doesn’t need us, He wants us. Realizing and delighting in that is to find the secret of worship.
Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem
Chapter 13: The Character of God; “Communicable” Attributes of God Part 2