Spiritual stinginess and Jonah {a blessing for today}

I never thought of myself as opinionated enough or a strong enough personality to have “enemies” before. I would think, sure, we don’t really get along, or we are just in different circles, or maybe my sister was an “enemy” for a day because we fought over something. But man, when you start putting your heart out there, serving and loving people and trying to do the right thing, it’s actually not too hard to make enemies.

Ha. I mean, as  a pastor’s wife, I’m getting to witness first hand how people are going to be looking out for number one, not always going to agree, not always going to support or even care for you.  Any kind of management position or area of life where you work with people really- people are going to be disappointed, hurt, lash out, disagree and fight. It’s just human. Well, part of being human is learning how to deal with those people.

We can ignore. Run away. Hide it. Push. Pull them, Gossip, make sure everyone else knows how horrible they are. Or even tell them how wrong they are…

or we can love.

Everyone knows the story of Jonah, don’t they? The story of where Jonah hears from God that he needs to head to Ninevah to tell them to repent and that God is going to rain down justice. But instead he heads the other direction. Runs away from God, gets thrown into the ocean, eaten by a fish and then spit out three days later. Jonah decides, hey I better listen to God and go do what He wants me to do.

We all know that story, even if we don’t ever read the bible, right?

Well, what about the 4th chapter of the book? Do we all know that part? It’s not usually part of the Sunday school curriculum.  It explains how at the end of Chapter 3 the entire city starts to repent, even the king and so God relents from doing disaster. The people of Ninevah are horrible people, basically Jonah’s (a good jew) enemies. And yet, God doesn’t destroy them because they have had a change of heart. Well, Jonah gets super mad about it and pouts. So mad that he says he might as well die. He then decides to sit outside the city and wait and watch for the coming disaster upon the city. Surely God won’t really forgive them.

He says, “I knew you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and relenting from disaster.”(Jonah 4:2) BUT… basically, how can you forgive them? It would be better for me to just die.

This chapter shows the depth of the human heart. It shows that God knows our human heart and whether it is a whole city or a single heart, He is in the business of mercy and grace and purifying ugly hearts. You know, a heart where we can say one thing and desire another…How Jonah was so mad about his enemies getting off free. How he sat and just waited for God to do something to them. Then God, knowing his heart, wanted to teach that heart a little of his mercy. He had a tree or a vine grow up over night to give him shade. The next night he had a worm destroy the tree so that it withered and died. Jonah is so mad about that that he says he might as well die, again!

Can we say, Drama king?  Jonah has more feelings and compassion for the plant then he does for all the people in the whole city of Ninevah. Goes to shows where his heart is, and how God is trying to teach him.

Well, you and I can be like that, can’t we? We can praise God that He is ALL THE THINGS in verse 2 of chapter 4… gracious, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in love…TO ME…

but then we can be “spiritually stingy” when it comes to showing those things to others.

The Ninevites were Jonah’s enemies- hard horrible and cruel people who spiritually didn’t know their “right hand from their left”(v.11) Like Jonah, we’ve been hurt or seen horrible things done by “enemies” of our own. Maybe it’s a murderer or adulterer you see on tv that you know deserves justice. Maybe it’s a family member who is abusive, verbally or emotionally. Maybe it’s a friend who has just been hurtful in how they’ve acted or spoken.  “Enemies” who are horrible, cruel, self-righteous, proud, hurtful in their own ways.

It is hard at times to see them the way God saw the Ninevites…it’s easier and more human to act like Jonah, waiting and watching to see how God will bring justice on them for what they have done.

BUT GOD.

But God. God was merciful on those Ninevites and He is merciful on our enemies too. That is why Jesus calls us to  love our enemies and even to pray for them!(Matthew 5:44). God was trying to teach Jonah the same thing that Jesus preached in the Sermon on the Mount. Crazy how He is still trying to teach you and me that today.

“Friends, the real scope of the width of God’s mercy is found in the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross. That’s the length and depth and breadth to which the love of God will go. So how can we, who know the grace and mercy of Christ in our lives, be less than gracious and merciful to others?” -Krista Williams, First5.org

Amen and amen.

{A lot of the ideas for today’s post came from a quick quiet time with First5.org this morning. If you’re looking for a daily devotional to be guided daily in time learning the Word, I highly recommend this devotional! You can get the app and it will automatically be sent to your phone daily.}

And finally, I’m just dwelling in this quote from CS Lewis:

“As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and of course as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”

Friends, may we be humble people, loving others, even our enemies, and looking up to what God is doing in our lives.

xoxo-kimberly renee

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