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.
Jonah was assigned by the Lord a task that did not suit his fancy. The Lord instructed Jonah to warn the people of Nineveh of God’s pending judgement if they did not repent of their wickedness. In Jonah’s mind, the people of Nineveh deserved every ounce of God’s wrath for they were the poster children of evil. Jonah hated everything about the people of Nineveh for they were enemies of the Jewish people.
Imagine if you will, taking care of someone who caused you much pain and suffering. Further more, they boasted in your misery as they paraded the agony of your utter defeat. Yes, God gave Jonah a bitter pill to swallow in the name of serving the Lord in obedience and mercy.
Several days ago my lovely wife asked that I write a devotion because it has been a while since I last wrote a devotion. So, I began to ask God to give me a word or topic to write about. As always, He never fails to deliver. As I was preparing for bed, this title came to me “On the way to Nineveh.” Shortly there after I knew what to write about. I love how the Holy Spirit guides and directs us in the things of God.
I realized through the spirit, my thoughts were leading me to write about forgiveness. The type forgiveness that relies on the spirit, for the flesh cannot overcome the urge to hold anger and resentment. I’m talking about the kind of forgiveness that keeps forgiving and serving when the object of your contempt isn’t deserving of kindness.
For almost a year now I have dealt with a rather hostile work environment in which I have battled with loving the object of my struggle. It seemed the more I forgave the more spiteful, resentful and slanderous the person would become. Many days I would cry out to God asking for the grace to get through it. Some days I told God I didn’t want to be kind or forgiving. I didn’t want to travel the way to Nineveh. I wanted to retaliate with the FULL force of my sinful nature. Yes, it would not have been right, but at least it would feel good.
However, the Holy Spirit kept bringing me back to three words, “Love the unlovable.” I couldn’t deny it for those three words grew louder and louder the more I battled with the flesh of wanting to lash out opposed to obedience to the spirit. Thank God the spirit won every time.
I realized that this had nothing to do with me and everything to do with Jesus. Scriptures like Luke 9:23, 1 Peter 2:12-15, 2 Corinthians 12:9 and Proverbs 19:11 gave the conviction for obedience to God’s word.. The grace of God was calling me to be an example of God’s forgiveness and eternal grace. How much more am I to forgive and show grace considering how much Christ forgave me? It is in this moment I realized the meaning of taking up my cross and following Jesus.
I don’t know who this is for, but what pressing situation has you resisting your walk to Nineveh? Perhaps it’s a colleague, a spouse, a job or the forgiveness of someone you would rather reap what they have sown. Whatever the case may be, trust that God is working in and through you. All He ask is you rely on His grace to give you the strength to stand strong in Christ. In the end, God is always glorified and we are more mature and stronger in Christ.
Remember, we cannot stir up the power of love, forgiveness and grace without the power of the Holy Spirit. I thank God for providing such a powerful source to help every Christian walk in the way of Christ. Some days are great while others require much petition of God’s grace to be Christ like. What matters is an example for Christ is set. The result may seem meager at best, but I know God is working in the matter for all parties involved, and for that I thank Him in the mist of the storm.
Father, thank you for the love you give so freely and the grace that is everlasting. We worship you in truth and spirit for that is what you seek. Thank you for the ups and downs we experience in this thing we call life, for it is the trials that refine us to perfection.
Strengthen us to love as you have loved. Purify us to forgive as you have forgiven. Help us to pray for those who mistreat us and love those who need grace. Finally Father, we ask that you give us victory over our flesh and strength in our spirit to overcome retaliation. It’s in Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
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** If you are in need of prayer (Ephesians 6:18), please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to pray for you. I also ask that you think of others whom you can share this message with.