After hearing a sermon this morning from the book of Jonah, I thought, if I could create an ornament to hang on my tree of what Christmas means to me it would be one of the great fish. I would do so because I’ve always been painfully aware of how very much grace I stand in need of on a daily basis. I’m truly not quick to judge. I’m not above it, I’m just not quick at it. God is the God of second chances, but He’s also the God of 20,000 chances and beyond, to which I can attest I’ve needed.
Another thing that I have become painfully aware of is what a judgmental world we live in. You can’t walk down the street without feeling the condemning eye of someone, even if it’s just a figment of your imagination. The feeling is very real, at least for me. A former young lady from my youth department posted an image on social media last night that said this:
- When I make a mistake
- I know it.
- I feel it.
- I tear myself apart.
- I lose sleep.
- I don’t stop thinking about it.
- So when I say I’m sorry.
- Know that I mean it.
- I’m my own toughest critic.
My first thought was, “perhaps I taught her too well, she became me.” But then I put the blame where it lies and that’s on Satan; who uses the tool of guilt to thwart the lives of any child of God trying to serve.
So… back to the ornament.
Before his great fish experience Jonah had three oracles hanging about his neck that drew him overboard.
Prejudice, Pride, and Preservation
Prejudice defined as judgement of another. Pride in the sense of judgement of self of a greater worth than others and Preservation by taking care of your own without regard for the souls of others. All of which are reasons for which Christ died, so that no man would be above another, of any greater worth and without excuse for failing to help someone in need. But we tend to forget that. Granted we’re better to remember others during this time of year, but why is it limited to December.
Jonah had that spirit about him when God told him to “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” But Jonah went in the opposite direction because he didn’t believe the people of Nineveh were worth saving. I can tell you the Jonah’s of social media should have their own site where they can spew their venom to each other instead of taking it upon themselves to be the judge, jury and executioner of people they don’t think are worth saving either. They are the “Mean girls” of today. A Christian falls and rather than picking them up we tell them their err, but when it comes to picking them up and giving them solutions to their issues, we run like Jonah.
Who ever said talk was cheap lied. It can cost someone their life.
When Jonah got on the boat with the mariners, (not people of God), they tried to save him. They didn’t want to throw Jonah overboard; that was a last resort. The world also often uses it as a last resort when they meet a drunk, a drug addict or persons of despicable character. They’ll take them in, make shelters, provide for their needs, where a Christian will give them a gospel tract and walk away, “Leaving them to God to clean.”
Jonah was expected to be a vessel. God had called him, and he hit the reject call button because he was prejudice against the people.
Pride too must have been part of Jonah’s character. When he determined the storm was brought on by his problem, rather than say, “turn the boat around I need to go back,” he said “throw me over board.” Willing to die rather than obey the calling of the Lord for the people’s sake. Pride will do that. It will cause you to disobey God rather than admit you’re wrong and go in the direction He’d have us go. I speak with experience, there’s a reason I need that fish on my tree.
Praise the Lord! I’m saved and preserved by the blood of Christ because my self-preservation tactics are self-destruction. Jonah was willing to die rather than submit to God’s will. But God had another plan. He preserved Jonah in the belly of a great fish that would have killed the average man; but God was not about to let one of His plans fall through. So when we read Jonah 3:1 “And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh that great city, and preach unto it,” we see the God of second chances and we read next that Jonah went. For the record he still wasn’t happy about it, but he went!
I have failed my Lord so, so very many times. No, I’m not quick to judge, but even if I’m slow it makes me guilty. I need the great fish ornament to remind me to be the giver of second, third and 20,000 chances. To never look upon the fall of someone as an opportunity to give advice but for me, it becomes an opportunity to give a hand. Amen!