The Reluctant Prophet – Part 2
God then has the big fish spit Jonah up on the shore three days later. He is a changed man, he immediately sets out to Nineveh to warn the people of their impending doom, because of their great sin. The people of the city hear his warning and repent, from the king all the way down to the youngest child. The king issues a decree that everyone needs to fast, animals included and urgently call on God. They were to give up their evil ways and in doing so they hoped that God would relent from sending the calamity that he had planned.
Well because of the people’s response God did relent from sending the calamity and he had mercy on the people. Well you would think that that was the end of the story, but if you read on, there is an interesting twist to this tale.
This twist is this, the prophet Jonah was not at all happy that God relented and gave the people mercy. He actually cited that that was his reason for not wanting to go to the people in the first place. Yes you heard me correctly, he was very angry with God that he would give the people a reprieve.
He told God that he knew that he was a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love, that he was a God who relents from sending calamity on the people.
God reprimanded him for his attitude and told him that he had no right to be angry for the mercy that was extended and that the people’s lives were very important to him and he wanted to show them his great love and compassion.
I have to be honest that as I read this story I did not quite understand why on earth this prophet would be so mad that mercy which was underserved was given to the people of Nineveh. Then God started to show me the deep recesses of my own heart. Yes you guessed it; in that deep place that I like to hide from good people is this need for revenge.
Mercy often seems so foreign to me that I struggle to extend it to others. This is crazy as I love to receive mercy and feel that it is my right to have it, as I sought the lord on what this all meant for me, I discovered a few important truths that I will share with you.
Firstly, God desires that when he asks us to do something, that we obey him, if we refuse to obey immediately or just don’t quite understand all that he has asked us to do he will pursue us until we do get the message loud and clearly. Just like he did with Jonah, and exactly what he has been doing with me.
God has great compassion for the people that he has created, he desires to have a deep and purposeful relationship with us, but due to sin our path to him is often obscured. Therefore he goes to great lengths to show us his great love and mercy toward us.
Mercy is something that is given in spite of our wickedness, it is undeserved but because of God’s great love for the people he gives it to us.
We as God’s people do not have a right to decide who should get mercy and who should not. Jonah tried to act as judge when he ran away from doing what God had asked him to do. He had determined in his heart that the people of Nineveh did not deserve the mercy that he knew God would extend to them.
It was at this point that the light started to dawn in my eyes and I understood what God was trying to teach me, when I refuse to be obedient to what He has set before me to do and I follow after my own desires, I no longer am acting out of love.
God’s love is so full of mercy and compassion and the bible teaches me that it is living within me, but if I choose not to allow my life to be a reflection of God and what he has done for me then I will no longer be walking in love but judgment of the people around me.
When I put my needs and comfort in front of other peoples needs, I am no longer acting in love and mercy. When I presume to tell God who should receive his mercy and why, I put myself in the place of God and I now find myself in sin.
In the book of Galatians Paul tells us that one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit which lives in a believer is love.
Galatians 5: 22 – 25
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23gentleness and self–control. Against such things there is no law.
24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit
I realized by my unwillingness to share the good things that God has so graciously given to me over the years, I had placed myself in the seat of judgment that could and would affect not only my witness for Christ, but peoples walk with Him here on this earth.
I am part of the body of Christ and because of that, I am responsible for pulling my weight and being a part of the solution to man kinds problems, not part of the problem.
Selfishness is deadly to our dreams and to the people that God has called each of us to minister to.
I urge you to take a good look within your heart today, are you still resisting God and doing your own thing, are you looking for the alternative assignment that would be a bit more comfortable.
If you are resisting, I ask you to stop right now and say this prayer with me, set yourself back onto the course that God has designed for you. Do not be afraid, remember he is the God of great mercy and grace, slow to anger, abounding in love and he relents from sending calamity on those who deserve it.
Dear heavenly father,
I come before you today and ask that you search the deep recesses of my heart. I acknowledge that I have selfishness and judgment living there. Please forgive me for any resistance that I have had in doing what you have asked me to do. Help me I pray through the power of your Holy Spirit, to lay down the selfishness and instead embrace your love, not only for me but for those around me. Help me to reflect you in every way.
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