“Godly jealousy” is not a phrase you hear much these days. If you use it in a sentence with your pals, you are likely to make someone uncomfortable. It isn’t a notion we like to ponder, because it runs so counter to our natural way of thinking. In an age that is indifferent to truth, the virtues of righteousness, purity, faithfulness, and holiness cause folks to squirm. It’s much easier to accept the call to holiness as a private pursuit or, to really water things down, a personal preference. Why? Because being set apart as the pure bride for Christ means we must lay aside our own selves. We must die to self.
When Paul confronts the Corinthians, he is loathe to talk about himself and his own credentials. Yet it is a “foolishness” that serves to reveal the true nature of the gospel. He tells them, “If boasting is necessary, I will boast about my weaknesses” (2 Corinthians 11:30).
The world always sees the wisdom of God as foolishness, and the strength of God as weakness. Yet when Christ washed His disciples’ feet, this was true success. Christ’s silence before His accusers was a victory. When He remained on the cross as the crowd jeered, “He saved others, but he cannot save himself!” (Matthew 27:42), this was a triumph. Christ did not come into the world so that we could be like the world, but that we might be set apart from it and made to be more like Him.
But the lure of falsehood is strong, both for the Corinthians and for us. It often enters into our lives, not through an active rebellion, but through complacency, through a passive concession to lies. Like Eve, we are prone to give the serpent the benefit of the doubt. We like to have our ears tickled. We hear him out, consider his boastful appeal, making sure not to offend. Like Adam, we stand by idly, instead of confronting the dragon (Genesis 3). We exchange humility for tolerance, and courage for captivity.
We live in a world full of boasting and false teachers who proclaim false gospels—of prosperity, of self-worship, of self-righteousness, of permissiveness—but who fail to proclaim the Christ who came to make His bride holy.
Given that we are so much like the Corinthians, I am provoked to examine myself. “For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
Is my own heart devoted to Christ? Or do I make concessions to the world in my mind, my heart, my life? Do I sit idle while the serpent of old tickles my ears and strokes my pride? I have plenty of my own boasting and foolishness that I must yield to Christ. But I greatly rejoice at this opportunity, for He has purchased me by His blood and is preparing me for Himself. In Him alone is my joy complete.
We rejoice, therefore, in the service of Christ. We boast in our weakness, and we preach but one gospel: Christ, and Him crucified.
Written by Caleb Faires