Losing Sight of a Lost World by Bruce Barnes

Jonah 4 is the background scripture.

So much gains our attention that we can lose sight of the eternal hell.  Jonah lost sight of why he was there; he even got upset over a gourd. This was after getting angry because God was the merciful God he is.  Look at verse 10.  Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night.  Jonah was concerned with things that didn’t matter. Now, it’s true Nineveh was a wicked city. We can sympathize with Jonah on his thought “how could God forgive such wicked people?”  Remember: People have value to God. He loves us. Yet Jonah was angry at God. Then he turned around and had pity on the gourd, which had no value. He was so upset that he was ready to die. How ridiculous!  How off base.  What’s a gourd in light of eternity?

Yet we hyperventilate over things. Things don’t matter. It’s just stuff. We do just like Jonah. It was never a pity for the gourd. It was special because it made him comfortable. He was comfortable  working for the Lord until he was called to do something he didn’t want to do.  He had no regard for the people. Let’s be careful what we concern ourselves with. The world is already passing away. Regard the eternal.

The things outside our control are what we want to control. Many things were outside of Jonah’s control. The gourd’s growth was outside of Jonah’s control. He didn’t plant it or ask God for it. God saw his need and sent it to take care of Jonah. He couldn’t take any responsibility for it. God was long-suffering with Jonah even when he was off base.  The people needed God’s long-suffering as much as Jonah. True faith trusts God no matter what goes on in life.  Jonah had a problem with God’s call to go to Nineveh. God’s desire was to save and spare them. Then he had a problem with God taking the gourd away. 

What could Jonah have controlled?  He could have answered God’s call. He could have preached from a desire to see the people spared. He could have preached in love and watched in anticipation of redemption. He could have been thankful for the gourd. Yet Jonah worried about things outside his control.  Stop.  Serve the Lord and see what really matters. Jonah was concerned with himself and things that are temporary. That gourd came up in the night and was gone. It was a fleeting thing. This type of thing should not be our focus. Things are quickly gone.

Serve God in the things that matter. Spiritual matters last. They are eternal. We want a burden for the lost , but if we’re not careful we’ll lose sight of the lost world.

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