past Sunday we looked into the life of Jonah, the prophet. What a
story! Called by God to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh.
Set apart to do a work of reconciliation. If he had just obeyed the
first time! Many times I have asked my kids, "When is a good
time to obey"? Their answer is an automatic..."Now"!
After receiving the Word of the Lord, Jonah arose...but not to obey!
Unfortunately, he arose to FLEE! Because of personal bias toward the
people of Nineveh, Jonah rebelled...he heard the Word of God, but he
didn't LISTEN to what He said! Jonah heard God say to go to
the wicked people of Nineveh, to warn them of His wrath to come.
Jonah was glad they were going to be destroyed. He didn't want to
warn them. However, what God really said to Jonah, was that He still
cared enough for the people of Nineveh to give them another chance
to repent...to straighten up and fly right. Jonah keyed in on their
wickedness, and God's impending wrath, because he identified
personally with the disgust for their sin...although, God wanted
Jonah to key in on the possibility of reconciliation! He wanted
Jonah to embrace the people of Nineveh with His Word! Jonah took the
path of least resistance (so it seemed), and ran away.
God wanted Jonah to do, was to arise and DO His Word! God
wants us to arise and do as well! The Bible says in James
1:22, "Be doers of the Word, and not hearers ONLY, deceiving
yourselves". Jonah heard the call of God, but he didn't LISTEN.
He was a hearer, but not a doer. He deceived himself! I can hear my
wife say many things, however, the sound I hear is much like the
sound of the adults in a Snoopy cartoon, "Blah, blah,
blah", until I take time to truly LISTEN. When we LISTEN,
we truly HEAR. Jonah heard what God said, but he acted as if
he heard another voice speaking louder...which he did! That
other voice was his flesh. In last week's LIFE Point, we explored
walking in the spirit versus walking in the flesh. Jonah not only
failed to walk in the spirit...he ran away in the flesh! He ran away
from the very One who had his best interest at heart. As a result,
the loving God he ran from disciplined him in the belly of a great
fish for three days and nights. After being puked out on the shore,
Jonah fulfilled God's original request to go to Nineveh and warn
them of impending judgment, and the hope of reconciliation through
people of Nineveh, including the king, repented. God gave them a
reprieve, and Jonah was angered. Surprisingly, Jonah had still not
completely learned his lesson! Yes, he learned not to run from God.
He learned that rebellion brought discipline to his life. He even
learned that the inside of a great fish is a horrible place to
live...but, he didn't learn the most valuable lesson...to love
unconditionally. He wasn't glad the people of Nineveh repented! He
wasn't glad God had spared them! As a matter of fact, he went
outside of the city on the east and waited, in hopes that God would
destroy them anyway! Prejudice and bias are ugly faces that
Christians sometimes wear. They are those faces which frown and
disdain those who are different from them...those who are still in
bondage to their sin. They are faces which have a proud look...which
by the way, God hates (Proverbs 6:17NKJV). They are faces that
withhold God's love, forgiveness, and hope instead of offering them
freely. Jesus said in Matthew 10:8, "Freely you have received,
freely give". Jonah wasn't interested. His mind was made up.
The people of Nineveh needed to die! I remember teaching a tenth
grade Bible class a few years ago. I purposely set up the students
with the following question: "What do you think we should do
with homosexuals"? Their responses were swift and hateful.
"Kill 'em all"! "Put them all on a deserted island,
where they can share their AIDS and die"! "Burn 'em"!
I followed up their angry replies with another question. "What
would Jesus do to them"? Silence came over the class. I asked,
"Would Jesus love them"? As they nodded in agreement, I
replied, "Of course, (He would hate their sin, but) He
would love them"! The Bible says, "God did not send His
Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through
Him might be saved"! (John 3:17NKJV). Jesus came to offer hope,
not a rope! While never condoning the sins of anyone, Jesus accepted
sinners with unconditional love. "While we were still sinners,
Christ died for us". (Romans 5:8NKJV) Like Jonah, what makes us
feel like condemning others? What gives us the right to be judge,
and pass sentence on those we view as unsavory, or even perverted?
Yes, we can judge a person according to their fruits (Matthew
7:16NKJV)...but don't ever forget...by what measure you judge...YOU
will be judged! (Matthew 7:1NKJV). In 1 John 4:7-8 the Word of God
says, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God,
and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God. He who does
not love, does not know God, for God is love". God tried
to teach Jonah about love...about sympathy...about compassion. He
caused a plant to grow up and give him shade while he waited for
judgment to fall upon Nineveh. He then sent a worm which damaged the
plant and caused it to die. He also sent a "vehement east
wind", along with sun so hot Jonah almost passed out. Jonah
responded with anger...wishing death on himself. God asked him,
"Is it right for you to be angry"? Jonah replied, "It
IS right for me to be angry, even to death"! Whoa! What had
gotten into Jonah?! Perhaps the more appropriate question,
"What had Jonah allowed to take over in his life"? ANGER.
God's question to Jonah, is a good question for us. Is it right for you
to be angry? 99% of the time I usually answer with an emphatic,
there anything that should anger us? How can we be angry
without sinning? According to how I interpret scripture, anger is
most often a function of pride and selfishness. It is a reactive
emotion which can cause great harm. On the other hand, it is also a
response to wickedness. Jesus was angry when he cleared the temple
of the money changers...but He didn't sin. Jonah's anger was sinful
anger. Why? Because his anger was elicited and fulfilled by his
flesh. The Holy Spirit of God did not initiate that anger.
Frankly, the Spirit of God questioned that anger! God knew Jonah was
allowing his own prejudice, and bias to control him through an
ungodly display of anger. And apparently, in light of the last verse
of Jonah, he never turned from that anger...even when he was being
directly confronted by God Himself! Wow! If that doesn't make us
think! Has God ever confronted you about your anger? Has anger ever
gotten the BEST of you? Have you ever allowed anger to rob you of
the joy God had intended for your life? We probably all have! I
encourage you today. Don't allow anger to control you. Don't allow
it to rob you anymore of the blessings God has coming your way!
Let's agree in prayer to allow the Holy Spirit to filter our anger
as needed. Let's pray for the Holy Spirit to harness our anger...to
utilize it in fighting evil...not in condemning the very people
Christ died to save! Let's ask the Lord for a compassionate
heart...a heart willing to hear AND listen to His Word...a
heart that will obey and do His Word. Let's pray...
Jesus, please help us to live our lives according to Your love, and
your Word. Help us see others, no matter how wrong they may be, as
You do. Help us see their potential through your redeeming blood.
Help us to be motivated by Your Spirit, NOT by our flesh, as we
fulfill Your call on our lives. In Jesus Name, Amen.
To Glorify God @ ALL Cost,
someone to fellowship with you this next Sunday! Invite someone from
"Nineveh", so they too can experience the reconciling love
of Jesus as you have! Be blessed with HIS BEST!