Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that God gives more energy to loving people than pacifying Jonah. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to put more energy into loving people than pacifying our concerns with our comfort or the comfort of a few.
Read Jonah 4:1-4
I. Jonah’s Pettiness. Jonah is angry about the Lord showing mercy. Jonah talks about God’s mercy being a part of why he fled to Tarshish. The Lord responds with the following question, “It is right for you to be angry”?
- God’s grace and compassion. Notice in vs. 2 that God is a God of grace and compassion. On one hand, we love for God to be gracious and compassionate towards us. But on the other hand, God is gracious and compassionate towards whomever He chooses to be, even our enemies.
Let’s work on living like we believe that God is a God of grace and compassion. Such living should be noted for appreciating it, when it comes our way. And such living should be known for accepting it, when it flows towards those who we don’t think should have it.
- Self-control. Notice in vss. 1-3, 8 that Jonah had some issues with controlling himself. When things seem very wrong to him, he doesn’t only get angry, but he also talks about dying. Believers should be known for self-control (see Gal. 5:23).
Somethings that can help us control ourselves is to work on what we focus on and what we accept as true (i.e., what we believe). We can choose to believe and focus on how God is working all things out for our good. “All things” includes those things that seem very wrong to us. Let’s work on controlling ourselves, especially our mindsets.
Read Jonah 4:5-8
II. Jonah’s Protection. Jonah sits outside the east side of the city. God provides a plant to give shade. And then the Lord sends a worm to destroy the plant. Jonah went from being happy about having shade to wanting to die because of the lack of shade.
- God’s perfect plan. Notice in vss. 6-8 that God can grow a plant and destroy it for His purposes. God can send blessings that we don’t deserve. And God can take away blessings. God does all of the above for His perfect plan.
And His plan includes great blessings for His people. Let’s work on trusting God’s perfect plan. This application will be easier to live by, if we prayerfully study and obey God’s word with the support of other disciples.
Read Jonah 4:9-11
III. God’s Pronouncements. God talks to Jonah about his concern for a plant. God compares how much concern Jonah has for a plant that he did nothing for to God’s concern for a city with thousands of people in it. In addition to many animals, there are at least 120,000 people in the city (i.e., some think there are 120k children and then adults, while others think it was 120k people who were childlike in their spirituality).
- Our comfort. Notice in vss. 9-10 that Jonah was so concerned with his own comforts. In like manner, we tend to be very concerned with what makes us comfortable. As disciples, we should strive to give more attention to what is God’s will, not just what is comfortable for us.
Let’s work on keeping our comforts in perspective. Our comforts should be secondary to God’s will.
- People and animals. Notice in vs. 11 that God is concerned with the people and animals. First, God is concerned with all human beings. We should be careful about dehumanizing people with labels like terrorists, thugs, gay, illegal immigrants, and the like. Although these terms may have legitimate usages, they should never be used to dehumanize. God loves all humans. Therefore, as disciples, we should love all people.
Second, God is concerned about animals. Therefore, as disciples, we should have some concern for animals. Even though we may prioritize survival and human rights over animal rights, animal rights should be on our agenda. Let’s work on being concerned with all people and animals.
Conclusion: Let’s work on putting more energy into loving people than pacifying our concerns with our comfort or the comfort of a few. God has much for those who obey His will.
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