(This week’s devotions are based on Sunday’s message: Grace for All…Grace Pursues – LISTEN HERE)
Why would Jonah run?
Jonah 1:3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.
God desires that the people in Nineveh have a chance to repent and turn to him. He gives the call to Jonah and…Jonah runs from the Lord.
How could Jonah disobey the Lord like that? Wouldn’t he be honored by the call the Lord gave and marvel at the opportunity to give hearts a chance to repent and turn to the Lord. Certainly the Lord wouldn’t send him on an idle mission.
Yet he ran.
I love the people in the Bible because they are so real…and, unfortunately, so reflective of me. When characters are recorded in the Bible, the Spirit of God wanted us to know about them and, I believe, see ourselves in them.
So let’s ask a different question.
Why would I run from the call the Lord gave me to speak to someone about their sin and call them to turn to Jesus for forgiveness?
I can give you quite a few reasons. Maybe you can add some of your own.
- I’m afraid of how they will respond. In an age that pointing out anything wrong is deemed judgmental at best and hateful at worst, why would I want to put my personal and emotional well-being at risk?
- I don’t have time. I have a busy schedule and things to do. To take time to talk, listen, dialogue with people about spiritual things just isn’t top on the to-do list today.
- I’m embarrassed. Having seen “street preachers” on street corners I believe if I come across like them it would be embarrassing.
- I might lose a relationship. People are fickle and even if you are well-meaning and want them to enjoy grace and forgiveness, they may not receive it that way. I don’t want to upset the relational balance of that friendship or within my family.
- I don’t think they deserve to hear about Jesus. Too often this is the mindset that keeps us from having honest conversations about sin and grace with people. It’s easy to look in culture and see the wickedness and evil that runs counter to the will of God and simply see society going to “h…” in a hand basket. Yet instead of seeing souls that need Jesus, we see souls getting what their sin deserves…and being ok with it.
What would you like to add to the list?
In all of these, what is lacking is the heart of God. My sinful, self-centered, self-righteous heart easily finds reasons to run from the opportunities God sets up for me to proclaim the Gospel. Without saying it out loud, I can sound like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day:
Matthew 9:10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The proof of Jesus’ heart? He called me. He called you.
He proved that his grace is for all by connecting us to his grace. He could have made all of the above excuses about bringing grace to me, but he didn’t. He found someone willing to share sin and grace with me. Through that message he has created and sustained faith in my heart.
Is it not possible that he desires to use you to bring the same grace you enjoy to the hearts of others?
Yes. Yes, it is.
Apply: What conversation are you “running from” because of one of the excuses above? Ask the Spirit for boldness of heart and clarity of mind and thought to lovingly engage in a conversation to bring sin and grace to that individual.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for finding a way to bring your grace to me. Forgive me when I run like Jonah. Guide me into your heart to have a passion for those that don’t know you and a love for your call to bring grace to all. AMEN.