When my wife and I started dating, I had a lot of friends who were women. There came a point in our relationship that this "sharing" of my time had to stop. My (future) wife said, in no uncertain terms, that either they had to go, or our relationship would be over. I've told this story several times during our almost 11 years together. This morning, however, it hit me that I always played the part of the self-sacrificing hero. After all, I always justified that there was no interest beyond friendship with these women. This morning, I came to an admission, of sorts. I had a relationship with many of those women that seemed to say "if this does not work out with (my wife), then I could just find someone else from this other selection."
I thank God that I chose to cut everyone else out. being together over 12 years, married for 11 of those, and 4 beautiful boys has been proof that I made the right decision, even though then I didn't understand the weight of my sacrifice. My wife had a brilliant foreshadowing of my relationship with Jesus. The Jealousy of my wife was (and is) a righteous jealousy she did not an would not share me with anyone or anything else. Jesus is more so righteous in His jealousy for me. The closer I get to Jesus, the more things I realize that I try to have waiting in the wings. "I love Jesus, but I'll keep this hobby, or past time, or job, or <fill in the blank> in case this does not work out." That is what we do when we share our time with Jesus and relationships, business, busy-ness, hobbies, sports, or anything else.
Jesus is a Jealous God, He does not want to be the first of many, He wants to be the one and only. I find that I love my wife and kids best when I love Jesus only. I love them because He loved them first, and He loves them best. When we love Jesus with the jealous love He loves us with, we become like Him. We live like Him, love like Him, and act like Him.
What do you need to give up? What are you sharing Jesus' time with? Only by letting go of those things, and giving Jesus one hundred percent will you truly find the promises of God fulfilled through His grace an mercy!
2 Corinthians 11 English Standard Version (ESV)
Paul and the False Apostles
11 I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 5 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.
7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God's gospel to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. 11 And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
Paul's Sufferings as an Apostle
16 I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. 17 What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not as the Lord would[a] but as a fool. 18 Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. 19 For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! 20 For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. 21 To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that!
But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food,[b] in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.
a. 2 Corinthians 11:17 Greek not according to the Lord
b. 2 Corinthians 11:27 Or often in fasting