Good morning. We all know the story of Jonah to some degree. The four chapters of Jonah are our text for study today. He is a man whose lack of compassion should not be our example. Please examine with me what we know.
Chapter 4 and verse 1 records Jonah’s lack of compassion in this whole affair. He is disgusted that they have repented and are going to be spared by God. He did not want his preaching to be successful. Please remember that Jonah is a prophet of God. Of all people, he should be concerned that people hear and obey the word of God for their soul’s sake. In this case, Jonah views the Assyrians (Nineveh) as enemies. He wants them destroyed, not saved. Have you ever considered someone your enemy and been happy at their misfortune (even a little bit). Have you ever said of someone, “it serves them right,” when punishment or accident has happened to someone. Of course, there can be truth to such a statement. But is the attitude behind the statement usually compassionate or somewhat gloating? Have you ever held back from trying to take the gospel to a person whom you disliked? All of these are the same attitude Jonah had.
A second thing to notice is the willing disobedience to God because of this attitude. In 4:1, he says that he fled from obeying the command of God to preach to Nineveh because he did not want God’s grace extended to them. Friends, seldom is an attitude just an attitude. Nearly always it causes and action or inaction. When we are not compassionate about the lost, we do not go to teach them. That is all Jonah did. He did what thousands of God’s people are still doing today – flee from preaching the truth. God had commanded him and God has commanded us. Are you a Jonah or are you a Paul?
Jonah did not take into account the innocent and the misled. God tells Jonah this in 4:9-11. He had more feeling about things than compassion for people. If we look at our actions in the church, do not many have more strong feelings about their things than they do for the lost or for their brothers and sisters in Christ. What about you? Do your actions indicate that things are more important than the myriads of lost around us. Could it be that one of the reasons that gospel meetings are poorly attended by our brethren and have become so short in length is that we want to spend more effort on things than on bringing the lost to hear the gospel preached. We often say that people will not attend a long gospel meeting. What is true is that the brethren do not want to take that much time from their recreational evening schedules. What about you? Wouldn’t you like to see the return of, at least, a full week long meeting so that you have more opportunity to bring people who are not yet dedicated to Christ, but who might break away one night in a whole week to accept your hospitality. Three day meetings becomes a might narrow window for the community to hit. And this is just about gospel meetings. What about other evangelistic chances? Do you run to them or away from them.
Brothers and sisters, we may be more like Jonah than we care to admit. Let’s change. Let’s love the lost. Let’s have compassion for souls that will lead us to do what it takes to save them. Compassion makes a difference.