The Reluctant Servant

Most people know the story of Jonah. This is a guy who did not want to go to Nineveh and preach and ended up in the belly of the whale.

The Bible doesn’t tell us why Jonah had it out for Nineveh. He must not have liked the city because when God told him to go there and proclaim His anger, Jonah turns tail and runs. Really? Who would, after getting specific instructions like that, try to run from God. But then, don’t all of us at one time or another? Think about that for a while.

Anyway, God sends a storm to rock the boat he’s on and the people on the boat don’t want to throw him overboard, but in the end they have no choice. Even then they pray to God to forgive them for “killing” Jonah:

Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him. Jonah 1:13-16

So even though Jonah was running from God, God still changed men’s lives despite Jonah.

Jonah changes his mind while sitting in the whale and get’s spit up on land. I always wondered about this. I mean, wouldn’t Jonah smell? Wouldn’t he look really bad after being in the belly of the whale? Just a thought. So Jonah goes to Nineveh and does what God wants him to do and, of course, Nineveh listens and repents.

What does Jonah do? He gets angry!! He starts ranting at God because God forgives this evil city that repented. He goes out and sits in the sun because he’s angry and wants to die. God sends a plant to cover Jonah and Jonah got happy. Then God kills the plant and Jonah got angry again. God asks Jonah if he has a right to be angry, because God caused the plant to grow and God caused the plant to die.

I think this lesson from Jonah is a good one for us. We may be reluctant to do God’s will and be his servants. We are called to be servants in all we do. Trying to run is not an option since, as we see in this example, Jonah was brought back to do the work he was meant to do.  Jonah was angry about it, but what good did that do?  God is sovereign.  God will do what He will do.  We are called to obey, and that is hard.  I don’t care what some people say, being a Christian and trying to obey the will of God is hard, but the rewards (or blessings) are wonderful.

Stewards of Gods’ Grace

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of Gods’ varied grace….” 1 Peter 4:10

My devotional reading today was on the book of Jonah, and I’m actually going to be teaching about that book in adult Sunday School in a few weeks … funny how God sends us these little messages, isn’t it?  He knows just what we need at any given time.  Anyway, the gist of the article was grace.  God extended His grace to Jonah, even though he was a sulky and reluctant prophet.  He saved him from the belly of the whale, he sent a plant to shade him … Jonah didn’t deserve those things.  He tried to run from his calling.  He wasn’t very appreciative of Gods’ care.  The very worst thing about Jonah — although he accepted Gods’ grace, he was angry when God extended that same grace to the people Jonah hated, the Assyrians.

Image result for images of jonah

I think there’s a lesson in this.  In the verse above, Peter calls us stewards of Gods’ grace.  We’ve all received gifts.  I know that I have certain talents, and I also have my health, a good bit of free time as a retiree, an adequate income.  Since all these are gifts of Gods’ grace in my life, I need to share them willingly when I see a need.  In fact, I should be excited when I can spread some of Gods’ grace around.  Most of all, I should be excited to share the good news of the sacrifice of Christ for our sins.  That’s truly amazing grace.

Unfortunately, I’m often like Jonah.  I may be willing to share with those I love, or those I find deserving.  I’m less willing to share with people I don’t know, don’t like or find unworthy in some way.  Why should I serve them?  They don’t deserve it and may not appreciate it.  However, here’s the thing — it’s only grace because we don’t deserve it.  If we could earn grace, we wouldn’t need God (or anyone else) to give it to us.

So today, let’s spread some grace around:  lend a hand; forgive; bake some cupcakes for your neighbor; give up your place in line.  You need it;  I need it;  everyone needs it, whether they know it or not.