Jonah, a Rusty Gate, and Me

The Biblical account of Jonah has some crazy action! Jonah ran from God, got tossed overboard in a storm, swallowed by a giant fish, vomited out onto land, then finally preached God’s message in a very dangerous city, in a very dangerous country. The people living the city were so vile, that God had planned to destroy them if they didn’t change their ways! Jonah delivered the message to them and God’s transforming word did its work and they repented! God decided not to destroy them, and this made Jonah happy that he finally performed his God given duties. Right? No!

In fact, “it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.” (Jonah 4:1) Jonah had a lot of things going into the mission field of Nineveh. He had God on his side, he had a life saving, soul preserving message from God. Through Jonah, God saved many souls on that day! But Jonah was also missing a few things. Things like: compassion, grace, empathy, and love!

In 1 Corinthians 13:1 Paul wrote, “If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.”  Jonah spoke with more than human eloquence and angelic ecstasy, he spoke with the authority and might of God! But he did not love. Paul would go on to write, “So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” Jonah did end up doing what he was told, he preached God’s life saving message and saved many souls, but he gained nothing. He was spiritually bankrupt! Because he did not love.

Are we any different? I can also go the ends of the earth, or the end of my street, and spread to gospel because it’s what I’m “supposed to do”. But just like a smile that never reaches my eyes, if the gospel never reaches my heart, I don’t benefit at all from the work I do! That’s called going through the motions. The people I teach may end up obeying the gospel and become saved, but if I don’t love them as I teach and preach, I will be lost!

So today, as I labor in God’s Kingdom, I need to evaluate myself. Every word I say, every action I take, every decision that I make, every thought I think… are they done with love?

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Don’t be a clanging cymbal, noisy gong, or a creaking rusty gate! Speak the truth and love (Ephesians 4:15)! 

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

Have a great week!

Who are “They”?

Misters Merriam and Webster categorize “they” as a pronoun. A pronoun can refer to a specific person, or it can refer to many people.

But who are “they”? Let me introduce to you, “they”.

They are the innocent people in Iraq who are being murdered for their beliefs and their ethnicity.

They are radical Muslims who are murdering innocents throughout the world.

They are Christians, who unlike Christ, are full of hatred.

They are South Americans who are illegally entering the United States of America.

They are the people who make decisions based upon facts that you or I do not have access to.

They are politicians, both decent and corrupt, who make our laws.

They are families grieving the too early deaths of their children.

They are communities who are scared and confused.

They are law enforcement professionals who are trying their best to protect our society.

They are military members fighting to preserve our way of life.

They are guilty.

They are innocent.

They are you

They are me.

We all need the same things: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Today I pray for “them”. From the radical militant Muslims to the American suburbanites. From the homeless veteran heroes to the DC politicians. I will pray for them all because as a Christian, I should love them all, and we all need Jesus (Matthew 5:43-48, Matthew 22:39, Romans 3:23).

In the immortal words of Tiny Tim: God bless us, every one!