Reading the story of Jonah recently struck me forcibly of the possibility that we could develop Jonah’s attitude toward others.
The opening verses tell how God spoke to Jonah the message He wanted declared to the Ninevites. But Jonah was not prepared to go. We aren’t told what it was that Jonah had against the Ninevites. He obviously considered they were worthy of God’s punishment and didn’t want to see them escape. He didn’t want to give them the opportunity to repent, so he determined to go to Spain instead of Nineveh.
When we’ve come into the blessing of God’s grace and mercy through receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour, we’ve also come under His commission to ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:19-20).
Have there been times when we’ve acted like Jonah? Have we felt smugness and comfort with our experience of God? Maybe we’ve been aware of the wickedness of others but we’ve considered they deserve God’s judgment for their sinful ways? If that was in Jonah’s thinking, didn’t he need to understand something of the grace of God? God doesn’t wish the death of any sinner, but longs for their repentance? God longs for sinners to turn to Him for forgiveness.
How about those who’ve experienced God’s grace and mercy, and been brought to repentance and forgiveness? Aren’t they the ones God wants to take the Gospel to others needing salvation? The lesson from Jonah to us is that when God has blessed us with His Salvation He’s given that saving message for us to take to others. He wants us to tell others what God has saved us from and what He’s given to us. He wants us to be His witnesses, taking the Gospel to others.
God, in grace and mercy, didn’t let Jonah escape from His commission. The experience in the stomach of a big fish brought Jonah to repentance. Then he witnessed the salvation of the Ninevites.
Let’s learn from the lesson of Jonah, and seek God’s forgiveness for the times we’ve failed to share the Gospel with others. Then let’s go and tell them what God has provided for them in Jesus.
Prayer: O Lord God, thank You for Your grace and mercy in saving me. Thank You that this is good news for others too. Help me to be faithful in sharing the good news of Jesus, and help others to come to know Him as their Saviour too. Amen.
But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish.
Matthew 28:19-20, NIV
David Silvester is married and has a son, two daughters and eight grandchildren. He trained as a production engineer. He then moved on to become a lecturer of engineering craft skills before being called of God in his early fifties to become a pastor of a Baptist church. He says that,"having previously experienced an amazing healing on a day others expected me to die, it came as no surprise that God directed me and my wife, Margaret, to become involved with Ellel Ministries."
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