How many times have we heard the phrase, “It’s not about you?” And while this is so true, reminding us that most often people respond based on their own thoughts, perceptions, and hurts, if you are a follower of Christ, you can’t rely on the “but that’s how I feel” crutch. Your call is to flip things–to fight the human tendency toward self-centeredness as you place others interest above your own. This means taking the time to look at people–truly look at them, evaluating your words not only in terms of what you are trying to say, but in how they might be perceived. As you read about the ancient prophet named Jonah, retold by Robin Prater from the Robin’s Nest, think of your own life. Does Christ’s love really dwell within you and flow through you, or are you too centered on self? Remember, it isn’t about you.
Is is really all about us? How many times have you woke up bright and bushy-tailed only to have someone walk through the kitchen with a poor attitude? Then all of a sudden your smile parishes and now your attitude is like thick mud?
We often think more of ourselves than those around us. How do we know? It shows in our attitude. It shows in our actions. The sad accompaniment to our actions is that they rub off on those around us.
Look at Jonah. Yes, Jonah, the Prophet, the one called by God, who did what when called? He ran. He didn’t want anything to do with Nineveh. He hated the people of Nineveh. But God loved them and wanted them to repent. He wanted to see them worship Him instead of their gods. But Mr. Selfish himself said no to God. In his one action of saying, “No, God”, made the earth around him tremble.
When Jonah said no to God, he ran aboard a ship filled with men. Men who needed God, but what did they see? A man running from God. Jonah’s actions touched these men before him. As God caused the waters to roar, these sea-faring men were in fear of their life. These men lived on the sea. They had seen storms before. For them to be in fear, this must have been a monster.
They called upon their gods to save them and where is Jonah? Sleeping down below. He isn’t thinking of his God, the men aboard the ship, nor the people of Nineveh. How could he sleep in such peace? I have to ask myself the same question. At times there is so much going on around me and instead of being in prayer or reaching out to others, I high tail into my own little world and say, “Who cares. Let someone else take care of that.” This is exactly what Jonah did.
But what catches my eye is the fact that after these men find Jonah and cast lots, Jonah, tells them to throw him off ship. They don’t! Instead they try to row their way back to shore. These unsaved men, heathens as Jonah would have called them, had more regard for Jonah, than this man of God had for a whole city of people dying. How many of us have been aboard that same ship?
The storm didn’t calm so the men threw Jonah off the ship. The waters turned smooth and all is as it was before they ever saw the likes of Jonah. But everything changed for Jonah. He lands in the belly of a big fish and remains there for three days.
Jonah is spit out and he goes to the people in Nineveh. They repent. They see that there is a God and what does Jonah do? He gets angry with God for not punishing them.
The very grace that God showed Jonah was great, but the grace He Jonah felt the grace God showed to the people of Nineveh was unjustified. Did he really think he deserved God’s grace more than they did? Did he really think his sin wasn’t as big? How often to we judge those around us and find our sins to be small in comparison? Oh, I don’t have enough time to count the accusations I have made, the judgements and claims of, “Well, maybe they deserve to sit in their shame for a while”. How can we be so full of ourselves?
What I gain today is the fact that I need to see those very people around me, not through my eyes, but through God’s. I need to love those around me with His kind of love. When God calls me to speak, I need to speak. When He calls me to move I need to move on His behalf. There is always someone watching and waiting to say, “Hey, she isn’t a Christian. Look at her actions.” You know, to a point they are right. I am in no way perfect. I am a work in progress, just like Jonah. I fail and I fall hard. But I believe in a God who chooses to love me for me. I have faith in a God who washes me in His grace and covers me in forgiveness when I choose to walk a different way. He calls me back to Him just as He did Jonah.
Sometimes we can be slow learners. It took a ship, a storm, a big fish, a country of people, a plant and God’s sovereign love to show Jonah that life wasn’t about him, but all about God and His will for our lives.
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in time of honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.”
Lord, as You wash me with Your forgiving grace daily, help me to do the same to those around me. Guide me in the right path and set before me, Your will. Give me the wisdom I need to serve You in every way and the understanding when I cannot see the end in sight. May I love those around me with Your love. I want to be so focused on You that when You call I hear and I will answer according to Your will for my life. Help me to be a witness those around me and may my walk with You shine before all men bringing honor and glory to Your holy name.
Robin Prater blogs at the Robin’s Nest and reviews for numerous publishers. She is a sinner saved by grace who uses her words to glorify Christ and share His love with others. Visit her blog to find out more about her and her writing or shoot her an email at srprater(at)gmail(dot)com.
This concludes my top 20 of 2011! Remember, if you loved today’s post and want to see it make it to the top three, leave a comment, FB share it, “like’ it, or tweet it. Then come back (either tomorrow or Friday) when I reveal the top three, chosen by *you*!