Jealousy and Idolatry

May 9, 2023 | Jaci Miller

My chest tightened. I caught my breath as a wave of jealousy plowed through me.


I had stumbled across her name on a prestigious award list. Someone who had once hurt me was succeeding in a field I longed to conquer. A field into which I had poured years of work.

Like staring at a crime scene, I couldn’t stop looking. Naturally, I navigated to her website. I skimmed through her lengthy list of accomplishments, including her latest award. I wanted to gag. Fuming, I read her bio — such a rich, fulfilling life God had given her. And not me.

Oh, I wanted to scream sarcasm at God. A raw ache pounded my heart. How unfair. How wrong. How dare God bless her with my dreams?

As I wallowed in self-pity, wanting to lash out at her and God, God was speaking. “Write it,” He seemed to say.

Thus, here I am, commanded to forgive, mandated to release jealousy … and without a clue how.

So, I googled it. Well, I went to Bible Gateway and looked up “jealousy.”

What appeared on that site, the sole response to my query, was Exodus 34:14. “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”

Instantly, God nudged me. He understood jealousy. When Israel constantly and consistently turned away from Him, He felt the same emotions. The frustration, the longing, the anger. All the times Israel turned away and violated His commands, God experienced a (much more righteous) version of what I was enduring.

In Scripture, people and places were often deliberately named, the names offering greater meaning into their characters or situations. In the Exodus passage, God named Himself “Jealous.” A part of His very nature. Somehow, that search engine produced only one entry on jealousy when I know other entries exist. Yet this was the one I needed to see. He is jealous for me.

Where God certainly could have condemned my emotions with any other passage about jealousy, in His kindness He met my heart with compassion and empathy. Almost like He was saying, “I’ve been there, too, Jaci. I am jealous for you. I want you all for Myself. Don’t worship at the altar of your longings. Worship Me only.” 

Had I really been worshiping what I longed for? Was my jealousy springing from idolatry? Maybe I had been worshiping at the altar of my craft, longing more for my dreams than for the Lord. When life or the Enemy thwarted those dreams, I was left like the man who built his house on the sand — foundationless and … jealous.

Though still tender, my emotions are settling. If jealousy comes from worshiping our longings, then my path is clearer now.

Worship God only. Let Him be jealous. He is the only one who has the right to be.