Jessica Albritton, NextGen Minister LHBC

Jonah 3:1–5
Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. 

The other week, one of the 3 year olds at church hit his friend. They were both playing, began to roughhouse, and the next thing you know one was crying. I looked up and told the one that hit he needed to apologize. Embarrassed he was in trouble, my 3 year old friend refused. We both went into the hall to have a conversation and discussed why it was not ok to hit and I gave him two options; apologize and go back in to play with his friends or refuse and stay with me for the remainder of the morning. At first he refused but after he realized I was serious he huffed a sigh of frustration and forced out a “I’M SORRY!” Clearly he didn’t want to apologize but he did what I asked. Just like that he was able to go back into the room and play with his friends. I knew I couldn’t make him mean it, but I could encourage him to obey. 

Jonah also was asked by God to do something he didn’t want to do. In Jonah chapter 1 God called Jonah to “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” Jonah, like my 3 year old friend, did not want to follow the instructions given him. Instead Jonah ran the opposite direction and found himself suffering the consequences of his disobedience. When Jonah finally decided to fall in line and obey the instructions of the Lord he had an attitude similar to my 3 year old friend, “I’ll do it, but I’m not gonna like it.” Jonah shows a level of obedience by going to Nineveh and beginning to preach, but his actions reveal a heart lacking compassion for people in need of God’s message of salvation. Instead of sharing hope and redemption through repentance, he heaps condemnation and judgement. He did exactly what God asked of him, but he did it with bitterness in his heart. As a result, when the Ninevites turn from their wickedness and receive forgiveness from God Jonah doesn’t rejoice, instead he is angry. He allowed bitterness fester in his heart to the point that he couldn’t experience the joy that comes from a sinner turning from wickedness to the Savior. 

We do that sometimes, follow God’s instructions but do it our own way. And as a result, bitterness keeps us from the joy received through complete obedience. At the end of the day God’s instructions may not make sense to us, we may not understand His ways or reasonings, but we can trust that He does in fact know better than us. So we have 3 options, refuse to obey all together, obey but do it our way and harbor bitterness, or fully obey His instruction and receive the joy that can only come from Him. 

What is God calling you to do? Where is He calling you to step out in obedience? How have you responded to His call? Today make the decision to fully obey Him and receive the joy that comes with it. 

Heavenly Father, you are so good and your ways are far better than mine. In the moments that I forget, help me to remember. Rid me of my bitterness. Lord, help me to fully trust in you and fully obey what you call me to do. In Jesus name, amen!

Jeremiah 10:6
There is none like you, O Lord;
    you are great, and your name is great in might