It’s not often that Jonah is used as a good example for us to follow. Many of us have learned how hardheaded, unloving, and rebellious Jonah was. But have any of us taken the time to consider what an example of faith Jonah is to us?
Jonah was a man of great patriotism. He was so pro-Israel, that he didn’t want to bring the good news of a gracious God to Nineveh, a city that had brought great trouble and pain among many nations, including Israel. This patriotism ending up being Jonah’s downfall. It caused Jonah to try to run away from both his calling and from God Himself. Thankfully, God didn’t let Jonah get away.
That’s how the story goes, but have you considered Jonah’s faith in God’s gracious love?
“And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.” Jonah 4:2
Jonah believed that God’s grace, mercy, patience, and love was so great that it could bring even so evil a city as Nineveh to repentance.
Sadly, this led to the wrong response, since he didn’t want the Ninevites to be saved. But the point is that he believed so strongly in God’s forgiveness and love that he was willing to walk away from his entire lifestyle, friends, family, and even God Himself.
What about you?
Do you believe so strongly in the grace and love of God?
I know I personally struggle with this often. I worry that the people we’ve seen come to Jesus will fade away, and that the people we’ve known for years will never come to Him. That the constant church and personal outreach to the lost will be all for nothing. But I remember the faith others, like Jonah, have had in God’s power to save, and it helps me keep a right perspective.
Unlike Jonah, this faith in God’s love should cause a different response.
But our response should be just as passionate.
Jonah, a man who was willing to leave everything and even risk a dangerous ocean voyage over his strong faith should remind and encourage us that we also should be doing everything we can, even to death, so that we may share the good news of Jesus Christ, because God is working.
May your new year begin with great joy and faith in Jesus our Savior, knowing that His grace, mercy, patience, and love is greater than anything else, and that He plans to do great things in you, through you, and in your area of ministry and outreach.