The other night I read the book of Jonah. It’s a short book, just four chapters. But the gist of the story is summed up in the first two and a half verses:
The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. Jonah 1:1-3a.
Just as He called Jonah to preach to the city of Nineveh, sometimes the Lord calls each Christian to some task. He calls each of us to share His truth with others as He presents the opportunity to us. Although we may not actively try to run away from the Lord, as Jonah did, we often simply fail to do what He asks. We might tell ourselves that He really doesn’t want us to share with this person or that person. We might argue that the time is not right, we don’t want to drive the other person away by preaching to them. Jonah’s reason for not wanting to go to Nineveh was that he was afraid God would have compassion on them and Jonah thought evil Nineveh didn’t deserve compassion. For us, the reason we don’t share is more likely that we don’t want to offend someone who we believe has already made a choice to believe something different than the Gospel.
So what happened when Jonah finally obeyed God and preached to the city of Nineveh?
When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh:
“By the decree of the king and his nobles:
Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened. Jonah 3:6-10.
The result of Jonah preaching the truth of God’s message to the people of Nineveh was that they changed their ways. They believed in and followed God and God had mercy on them. Jonah’s words, which came from God, had the effect God intended.
Isaiah 55 says:
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
So if God wants you or me to share His truth with someone in our path, we should not give in to the fear the world puts upon us. We should not fear offending or driving the person away. If we share His Word, which is Jesus, it will not return empty. Our sharing may not achieve the purpose we think it should, but it will achieve the purpose for which God has asked us to share it.
I know who I need to share His Word with. Now it’s time to quit running away from God by not doing so. How about you?