Wishing ill on others is not wise

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:1-3).  It is amusing that Jonah thought he could run from the Lord.  For some unknown reason, the prophet of God believed the city of Tarshish was further than God could see.  Today I want to look at why he tried to escape the presence of the Almighty in the first place.  The answer is not given immediately in the book, and we will have to read all the way to the last chapter to find it.

Jonah 4:2, “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. “ The reason is not given precisely, but we know Assyria was the enemy of Judea and Israel, and Jonah evidently had no love lost for them.  He also knew that God would forgive them, and he was not up for that. He decided they were not worthy of mercy for at least those reasons and was so angry at God for eventually granting repentance to them that he even wished himself dead. So, just to be clear, Jonah was not fearful and upset that he would be ineffective, but rather that he would actually succeed.  How crazy is that?

The sad thing is that we often act that way as well.  Someone does something to us that hurts us, or because of their race, nationality, sex, or worldview, we consider them enemies and only desire the worst for them.  Now, think about that for a second.  We know we need the grace and mercy of God for our salvation. We will do almost anything to ensure that we will receive the crown of life promised to those who remain steadfast one day.  We thank Him almost daily for that blessing, and yet we do not want others to receive that same level of mercy.  How much can you possibly hate someone that you can wish an eternity of despair and anguish on them?  We are told this in Matt. 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”   Who are we to judge someone?  Who are we that we can withhold God’s gift of eternal life in heaven from someone?

We would do well to read Matt. 7:2-5, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”  We injure ourselves spiritually in our haste to declare them unworthy, to point out their mistakes and judge them unworthy of God’s grace.  But, if left unattended, that injury could be fatal for us. 

Christ did not only die for you and me.  His sacrifice of the cross was not for the select few, of which you and I are recipients, but for every human being on earth.  In Matt. 28:19, We are not told in the great commission to “go out and make disciples of all whom you deem worthy,” but to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”.  Stop being so selfish.  Stop being selective.  And stop having your small feelings hurt to the point that you wish ill on others because in doing so, you may bring ill on yourself.  Have compassion for others, or no compassion will be shown to you.

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