Monday, October 26, 2015

Priority Evaluation from the Book of Jonah

I talk a lot about priorities it seems. Usually I focus on how we spend our time, specifically at times when I am rushing to write this blog post because I haven't prioritized it. Today, I am kinda rushing, but we are not going to write about how we use our time in relationship to priorities.

In the book of Jonah, God goes through quite a lot to show an object lesson of someone who does not have proper priorities. And then he ends with a question in Jonah 4:12-13,
"Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?"

There isn't any rest of the book, Jonah never gives an answer. We see instead that we ourselves are supposed to provide an answer. So how would we as people evaluate our priorities to see if they line up with God? Well, perhaps, a good way of doing that is to see the things that Jonah did that highlight that his priorities were in the wrong place. There are three of them.

1. Disobedience.

When Jonah first hears that he is to go to Nineveh because saving Nineveh is the Lord's priority, he runs precisely the other way. He showed that his interests were more important than God's and that he cannot move on.

2. Prejudice placed above compassion

He decides that he is not going to have any chance that the people of Nineveh might not actually get destroyed.  He goes so far as to in chapter 4 complain that the Lord is showing mercy to the people of Nineveh and explains that this is why he didn't come in the first place! He knew the grace of God (never mind that he knows it because he has received it) and he didn't want his enemies to receive that grace.

3. Convenience placed above the spiritual need of others.

And then of course, he was more thankful for the gourd than anything. He twice in chapter 4 explains that he is ready to die. One when the people of Nineveh live, and the second when the gourd (his personal heat shield) dies. I feel like you see the issue here, don't you?

So maybe at the heart of all three of these issues is a heart for the conditions of others, whether we like them or not, and seeing people as souls that the Lord wants to save.

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