JONAH 4:1-3: “Jonah was very upset about this, and he became angry. So he prayed to the LORD, “LORD, isn’t this what I said would happen when I was still in my own country? That’s why I tried to run to Tarshish in the first place. I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, patient, and always ready to forgive and to reconsider your threats of destruction. So now, LORD, take my life. I’d rather be dead than alive.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: What is my attitude toward my enemies? In this midst of this most unusual political season it seems that we are engaged in a civil war of words and emotions. Those who used to be friends, now view themselves as enemies. Members of families are sharply divided against themselves. We watch the evening news, just hoping to see the opposing side stumble and fall. Like Jonah, we don’t want to have much to do with the opposing side. After all – they are the enemy, right?
When Jesus died on the cross, did He die only for those of a certain denomination, or of a certain political party? Did Jesus die only for Americans, and not also for the Middle East? When you look at the emotions that we are dealing with through the lens of the Cross – everything looks differently.
As Christians we need to decide whether we will be swept away by the emotional tide that divides us, or joined in prayer through the Cross that unites us!
We need to be careful that we are not like Jonah. Jonah understood the mercy and compassion of the Lord, and this is exactly why he ran from God’s call for Jonah to bring God’s Word to his enemies.
- “That’s why I tried to run to Tarshish in the first place. I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, patient, and always ready to forgive and to reconsider your threats of destruction.”
Jonah was more interested in his enemies fall and destruction, than he was in their repentance and restoration. He was much like James and John, the sons of thunder, who wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy those who were opposing Jesus.
- “And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. ” And they went to another village.” (Luke 9:54-56 NKJV)
Here are some other verses to consider about our attitude toward our enemies.
- “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45 NKJV)
- “They (David’s enemies) reward me evil for good, To the sorrow of my soul. But as for me, when they were sick, My clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; And my prayer would return to my own heart. I paced about as though he were my friend or brother; I bowed down heavily, as one who mourns for his mother.” (Psalms 35:12-14 NKJV)
- “Do not be happy when your enemy falls, and do not feel glad when he stumbles. The LORD will see it, he won’t like it, and he will turn his anger away from that person.” (Proverbs 24:17-18 GW)
- “If your enemy is hungry, give him some food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him some water to drink. ⌊In this way⌋ you will make him feel guilty and ashamed, and the LORD will reward you.” (Proverbs 25:21-22 GW)
- “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” (Romans 5:10-11 NKJV)
As believers, we can be passionate about what we believe. We can enter into the public debate and process. We can boldly proclaim the truth in the midst of ridicule and opposition. Yet, we should not hate, gloat, or hope for the demise of those with opposing views. Rather, we should pray for them, love them, be patient with them, and bless them. Isn’t this what Jesus Christ did for us while we were sinners, enemies of God, when He was nailed to the Cross? If we are truly disciples of Jesus Christ – can we do any less?
Lord, forgive me for the many times I have looked at those who do not embrace my faith or ideals as my enemy. Even when I am unfairly attacked for speaking Your truth, may I be like Jesus and Phillip, who both proclaimed – “Father forgive them!” Give me a heart of compassion, patience, intercession, and love! May I drop the stones that are clenched in my hand, and extend the Gospel with open hands of mercy.
In Jesus Name!