BY JESSICA LANDMON
When love is absent, bitterness overflows. When love is absent, selfishness exists. When love is absent, pride manifests. Bitter, selfish, and proud – these three adjectives accurately describe the condition of Jonah’s heart.
The book of Jonah is only four short chapters. And, yet, his life has really stirred my heart – so much that I have now devoted two back-to-back blogs about it.
God asked Jonah to share a message of repentance to the people of Ninevah. But, Jonah did not want to go. He was afraid that the people would hear this message, turn from their wickedness, and that God would show them love rather than the judgment that Jonah felt they deserved.
Wanting people to receive punishment for their wrongdoing is a normal human reaction, but it is not Godly. I can totally understand how Jonah would want the people of Ninevah to get what was coming to them. They were evil and inflicted cruelty on the Israelites. But, that’s not God’s heart. And, Jonah knew that.
I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. – Jonah 4:2
If you really study the scriptures, you will see that God uses punishment as a last resort. God is a God of love. He wants all people to turn from their evil ways. His hope is to restore all people. He wants to welcome everyone into a relationship with Him. And, He will give people numerous opportunities to do so.
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. – Jonah 3:10
Ladies, I am deeply troubled by the current state of our nation. Love is diminishing, while hate is growing. But, we need to remember that God is deeply in love with all of us, no matter what we have done. His hope is that we all receive His free offer of repentance and turn to Him.
Let’s make sure we remember this the next time we see people who have rejected God or are struggling in sin. It’s easy to see ungodly behavior and get all smug. But, aren’t we all just “a burning stick snatched from the fire”? (Zechariah 3:5) We need to extend the same grace to others that God has extended to us. If we lack love, how are we supposed to bring them to Jesus?
Loving people like Jesus is our choice. Love brings understanding. Love brings compassion. Love brings unity.
When love is absent, evil wins.