Monday, April 2, 2012

What Is Love? Baby Don't Hurt Me. - Part 3

1 Corinthians 13:4 says "Love is not jealous"(NLT).  So is it wrong for a man to be jealous if his wife is getting too close to another man?

We live in a very tolerant and accepting society.  Men and women are supposed to have their own space.  How often do we hear someone say, "It's alright for me to look as long as I don't touch" or "there's nothing wrong with a little flirting" as long as it stops there.  In general the notion of a jealous husband is met with fury and suspicion.  Accusations of a controlling personality are sure to follow.

Strangely enough, this verse seems to support such views.  If he loves her or she loves him then they will be ok with an anything goes relationship, granted there is nothing physical happening outside the marriage.  My wife and I have friends who say their spouses have no business influencing their lives - separate checking accounts, calendars, and agendas.  The verse does say that love is not jealous, but something just doesn't sit right with me about this.

While I am certainly not a Greek scholar, the specificity of the language does afford the reader a greater understanding than English.  English has a bunch of repeat words.  For instance, love can mean about a zillion different things in the English language.  I love my wife and I love M&M's.  But in the original Greek, there were specific words to describe what we would call different types of love.

"Love is not jealous."  While in English, we start the verse with the word "love" the Greek starts with word "agape" (I don't have a way to include accents, so please excuse that).  Agape means something very specific.  The word is not used to describe the type of romantic love between a man and woman, or the type of brotherly love, but the type of love we are to have for people in general.  It's sort of an attitude of goodwill to all.  Ok, this very can't be used as a proof text for the independent spouse.

The other key word that we need to examine is "jealous".  You can put away your visions of the estranged husband gone postal.  The Greek word here is zeloi.  It means to envy, but to envy one's possessions.  A better word would be covet.

Love is not jealous, or in other words, Love is content.  Let that sink in for a second.  Love is content.

There is a great illustration I heard a pastor tell once about monkey traps.  Maybe you've heard it.  The way trappers catch monkeys in northern Africa is very simple.  They tie a gourd to a tree.  The gourd has a hole in it just large enough for a monkey's open hand.  Inside the gourd are nuts and things that monkeys like to eat.  The trap is set just before sunset.  Under the cover of darkness, a curious monkey will inspect the trap, sticking his hand in to grab the delicious treats inside.  But with his hand clenched around the treats, the monkey can't get his hand out.  In the morning, the trappers come back and kill or capture the monkey (source: Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations).

When we aren't content, we get our families into monkey traps.  When we love our families, we don't let our covetous tendencies get them into trouble.  When we are content, we keep the bills under control.  We don't take unnecessary risks for shiny new toys.  We don't let the biggest TV competition with Bob next door motivate us.  We don't push our kids into going to schools we can't afford and they won't be able to afford upon graduation.

Love accepts what God has given with a thankful attitude.  It leads others, by example, to do the same.

I would love to hear from you on this!  Leave your comment below.

What Is Love? Baby Don't Hurt Me. - Part 1

What Is Love? Baby Don't Hurt Me. - Part 2

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