And the Lord said, “You pity the plant for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night and should not I pity Nineveh that great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left and also much cattle.”
And thus ends the book of Jonah with the prophet, exceedingly displeased and angry that God had brought salvation to Nineveh. That God had saved Nineveh from the wrath they deserved. And the prophet Jonah is upset, goes out of the city, sits down there under the shade and God appoints this plant to come up over Jonah to save him from discomfort in the sun. And Jonah was exceedingly glad about the plant.
God, help us to share the gospel compassionately and zealously with those around us.
But then when God appointed a worm to attack the plants that withered, Jonah was so upset. And God says in the verses, we just read, “You pity the plant, a plant. Should I not pity Nineveh people, hundreds of thousands of people who have created in my image, whom I love and I desire to save.” Like there’s so much temptation at this point just to be very critical of Jonah. And obviously, Jonah was in the wrong here. But let’s look at our own lives. how often are you and I consumed with, passionate about, things in this world that ultimately don’t matter. And we value plants and possessions and sports and entertainment and petty comforts and trivial concerns. And we can get so worked up over these things, so passionate about these things, even embroiled in these things that we miss individuals right around us, people that we interact with on a daily basis who are on a road that leads to an eternal hell.
Oh God, we pray, help us to realize to remember what matters most. God, we pray that you would forgive us for our focus on so many different comforts and cares and concerns in this world that we are not more passionate about souls being saved. Not just to experience your life and your love in this world, but in all of eternity, God help us to pity what you pity, to have compassion like your compassion, to love like you love. God, we pray that you help us to long for what you long for. You desire all people to know your grace, your salvation. We think about seven-plus billion people in the world, all created in your image, your likeness. Created to know you and created to enjoy you, who have turned from you. All seven-plus billion of us have turned from you and you love them, so loved the world that you gave your one and only son that whoever among these 7 billion believes in Jesus will not perish, but have eternal life.
God, we praise you for your love for us. We praise you for somebody caring enough about us to share the gospel with us. We praise you for the eternal life we have in you. We praise you for your pity and your compassion and your love for us. So, God, we pray you’d help us to show that for other people around us. God, we pray that our zeal to lead people to you, to have faith in Jesus, to eternal life in you would far outweigh our zeal for anything else in this world. Oh God, that we would be emotional about, passionate about, not plants and possessions and sports and entertainment and petty comforts and trivial concerns, but that we would be passionate about people and their souls for all of eternity.
God, we pray that you would keep us from living like we see Jonah in this last chapter. God help us to be a clear reflection of your love for the people around us. People who are desperately in need of your grace. We pray that you would help us to be more concerned about their salvation than we are about new business ventures and new gadgets and nicer things and sports teams and whatever else this world offers us. Help us we pray, Oh God, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Throughout the fall, we are following the McLean Bible Church Reading Plan. You can access the reading plan here.