Have you ever been at a low point in your life, whether by circumstance or by suffering the consequences of your bad decisions, and experienced God’s redemption? When God redeems us, He desires us to have compassion on those still trapped and struggling, just as He does. It breaks God’s heart to see His people suffering in prison, mental hospitals, or homeless on the streets, but His heart is broken all the more when His people turn away from others in need.
It breaks God’s heart to see His people suffering in prison, mental hospitals, or homeless on the streets, but His heart is broken all the more when His people turn away from others in need.
But Jonah’s heart is hard and he runs in opposite direction; he doesn’t want to go deliver God’s message to the people because he doesn’t love them as God does.
Sometimes we can have the same harsh Jonah-type attitude for the people around us, sitting in judgment and refusing to bless them because we are not generously loving people the way that God does. Pastor Miles challenged us today to measure every single day how much we love God: if we do exactly what He says when He says it, then we love Him abundantly. The Bible calls us to have faith like a little child – though we may not understand every aspect of God or His plan, we love and obey Him because we trust Him as a child trusts his father.
1. The heart of a lover has faith to love generously. Jonah 4:1-2
Jonah finally agrees to preach a message of repentance to Nineveh, and the people overwhelmingly believe God and turn from their evil ways. But is Jonah satisfied with this outcome? No!
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!” Jonah 4:1-3
Jonah is angry that God has forgiven the wicked people of Nineveh because he doesn’t want them to share in God’s blessing. But why should anyone hold back the blessing of God, who certainly has enough to go around?
God wants us to do as He does. In this case, this means acknowledging God’s great love for the world and emulating that same love and generosity.
2. The heart of a lover has faith that their sacrifice will bring blessings to other people. Jonah 3:10
When Jonah is outside the city once more, God prepares a plant to shade him. But when the plant is destroyed and God brings the hot wind and sun on Jonah, he whines and complains in misery.
But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?” Jonah 4:10-11
God is upset because Jonah cares more about a withered plant leaving him exposed to the elements than he does about a perishing city full of people that God loves. This selfishness is displeasing to God.
God desires us to be generous to others and to trust in Him for our own provision. When we give sacrificially of ourselves, our giving will bless others, which is something to celebrate!
3. The heart of a lover has faith that their sacrifice will bring blessings to the giver.
We can give by faith that God is pleased by a generous love and that He will not hold back His blessing from us. This doesn’t necessarily mean that God will bring us wealth (although He can if He so chooses), but rather that He will bring us blessings far more valuable than money – wisdom, truth, right relationships, a sacrificial heart, etc.
Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. Luke 6:38