I was thinking about how hard it is for me to love someone in my life. A family member, I just can’t bring myself to spend time with, show love to or even be more than civil too. I am ashamed of my behavior because I am supposed to be showing God’s love to everyone. Driving home today, I thought, Just Change! Change yourself and love this person. As I drove home praying to God, I realized that no matter how much I want to change, it takes time. It takes the softening of a hardened heart to truly change and show God’s love. I used to wonder why people didn’t just change.
Change comes down to choices. We all make choices based on our personal experiences, life issues and our general idea of what is best for us. True change, heart change comes from God working in our lives freely. So as I drove home contemplating all of this, I asked God to show me a biblical figure that had problems with loving someone, in specific, someone that had a hard heart problem.
Jonah. A man of God, chosen to preach God’s love to the people of Nineveh. A people Jonah didn’t particularly like or want to preach to. In fact, Jonah had such a hard heart against the people of Nineveh, he disobeyed God’s calling and fled in the opposite direction of Nineveh. Jonah 1:9-10 And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew: and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.
Oh Jonah! He didn’t even seem ashamed to me. Jonah told the sailors the truth, not even hiding the fact he’d run from God or God’s will. We move onto Jonah 3:10-4:1 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. PAUSE FOR EFFECT. God forgave the people of Nineveh because they repented. God loved them and wanted them to hear His word so they would repent. Jonah’s work was done, but…4:1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
Oh Jonah! Just Change. Jonah had come to the point where his work was finished, he had obeyed God finally after being in the belly of a great fish for 3 days. (Jonah 1:17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.) After all this, Jonah preaches God’s word to the people of Nineveh, which made me think, hey, Jonah’s doing God’s will. He must have changed. Then I moved onto to Chapter 4 and realized, Jonah never had a heart change. Not towards the people of Nineveh. We don’t hear much about Jonah after that, but my deepest hope is that Jonah allowed God to work in his heart and change his attitude towards the people of Nineveh.
After seeing Jonah’s behavior and knowing mine (at times) closely mirrors it, I just want to change. Over the past few months God has changed me and even now I know He is still working. I don’t know if Jonah had the same problem I did, but I will share mine with you. I hold so much against this person I want to love, but can’t seem to. I believe she is nothing more than poison to all those around her and I have proof. Proof I would gladly lay down for anyone, so I could be justified in my feelings toward her. However, this is not what God wants, nor what Jesus taught me. I cannot claim to be madly in love with God and not love everyone. Especially those He has put directly in my life. What I have learned from Jonah is important and starts with obedience to God.
Jonah obeyed God after his initial disobedience, only because God gave him a second chance. God has given all of us a second chance and we must use it fully. First to obey God, second to love God, third to love all those He has put in our lives. It isn’t going to be easy, but it is going to be worth it. Jonah needed to see the people of Nineveh as God saw them, just as I need to see the people in my life as God sees them. LOVE. They all need love and to know they’re loved.
After reading Jonah, I am not ashamed, I have confessed to God my sin of a hard heart and being unloving. Now I must submit myself to God, so that He can change my heart, soften it to love everyone. Jonah was a prophet of God and he was not perfect, but he is an example for us. It takes time for God to soften our hearts, mostly because we fight it, but also because God has His own timetable. If you are having issues changing some area of your life, take a breath, trust God and pray, THY WILL BE DONE. God will change you, but it doesn’t JUST happen.