Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
A Time of Repentance
“But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.” Jonah 1:3
Matthew Henry once said, “Some people do not like to hear much of repentance; but I think it is so necessary that if I should die in the pulpit, I would desire to die preaching repentance, and if out of the pulpit I would desire to die practicing it.” In today’s passage, we look at the story of Jonah, one that is common for us all as we have heard the story since childhood. Jonah’s story is one of repentance. Nineveh was the most important city in Assyria. Nineveh was also a powerful and wicked city. Their list of atrocities was a long list of deeds that angered God. Their atrocities angered Jonah as well, but God’s reaction and Jonah’s reaction were two complete opposites. God wanted to extend mercy to them and have them repent, but for Jonah, he did not want God to forgive them but would have rather seen them be destroyed.
As much as Nineveh needed to learn about repentance, Jonah needed to learn about repentance just as much. Sin is the absence of God in one’s life, and Jonah did what he could do to try to escape from God. Repentance is turning away from sin and self. Therefore, repentance is about returning to God, not being absent or away from Him. Therefore, Jonah needed repentance. Even before boarding that boat, Jonah had already sinned by allowing his hatred of the Ninevites to overtake the compassion that he was supposed to have for them. He knew that if he preached to the Ninevites, they would repent and God would forgive them, but he believed that he should control who should and shouldn’t be forgiven. Yet, that experience of running away was needed, because he could not preach a message of repentance, if he did not repent of his own sins.
As Christians, how often do we believe that we get to play God and decide who should and shouldn't be forgiven? To repent means to turn back to God, only when we are with God can we truly extend forgiveness to others.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we have sinned. Just as Jonah did, we try to dictate who should or shouldn't receive forgiveness. When someone does repent, it often times bothers us that you would forgive such a person, while forgetting that we were once that person. Please forgive us, and enable us to be vessels used by you to bring others to you. Amen.
Thought for the Day: To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.
Mat Stan Samuel, St Pauls MTC, Dallas