I’m back on the “blog trail” again after several months away. I don’t anticipate posting every day like I had attempted in the past but a few times each week. The blog will be about what I’m reading in the Bible at that time…or other “interesting” stuff along the way. Today I was reading in the Old Testament book of Jonah. I think many of you are familiar with the story. Jonah is called by God to go to the wicked city of Nineveh and preach to the city so the people can repent and turn toward God. Jonah doesn’t want to go…runs away…becomes “fish food”…gets vomited out by the fish (yuck!!!)…reluctantly goes to Nineveh after all (wouldn’t you?)…preaches without a lot of passion…the people repent…Jonah gets angry about it (he would rather the people have been judged by God, not forgiven)…he gets very hot…God gives him a plant for shade…the plant dies…Jonah gets angry and has a pity party…then God says: “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”
Since I’m working through a sermon series around the word “selfless”; Jonah’s attitude here stood out clearly to me. Jonah is upset that God took away his shade plant; yet he didn’t care about God’s judgment on a city full of people. Can you say “selfish”??? Jonah was focused on his own person comfort and plans. That’s why he ran away from God in the first place. The more I think about selfishness the more I see it in my own life and in the lives of others. Yet selfishness is the exact opposite of what God desires. God desires that we live selflessly. Here is an exercise for you today: Every time you face a temptation to sin today, think of that temptation through the prism of selfish vs. selfless. I think you’ll find that almost all of your temptation will be an appeal to your own selfishness. Don’t give in…Look to God for deliverance and see His deliverance as an act of selflessness…for your good and for the good of others. And be thankful that you are not “fish food”!