Family Bible Study lesson for Sept. 15: God is Patient
August 23 2002 by John Tagliarini , Jonah 3:1-3a, 10; 4:1-3, 6-11; 2 Peter 3:9, 15

Family Bible Study lesson for Sept. 15: God is Patient | Friday, Aug. 23, 2002

Friday, Aug. 23, 2002

Family Bible Study lesson for Sept. 15: God is Patient

By John Tagliarini Jonah 3:1-3a, 10; 4:1-3, 6-11; 2 Peter 3:9, 15

Our children have tried our patience and sometimes found it wanting. Never have we felt as satisfied as when they have responded to us in love without the exercise of threat or punishment. As our family has matured, we have shared inexpressible joy in relationships of deepening love. This is why God is patient.

Our experience of the patient mercy of God should develop in us a true compassion for the lost. Sharing His compassion would help us give a clear, caring and consistent witness to His grace. What would it look like if our compassion mirrored God's?

True compassion witnesses without duress (Jonah 3:1-3) God gave Jonah a simple assignment, "go to Nineveh, cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me" (Jonah 1:2).

The task seemed so onerous to Jonah that he ran as far and fast as he could in the opposite direction.

God prepared a fish for his "fantastic voyage" and landed him back in the right direction.

Though Jonah's prayer (chapter 2) indicates repentance and a vow of obedience, we find a reluctant Jonah offering God's message.

We could easily criticize Jonah for his reluctance, but how often must we be cajoled, coerced or rewarded superficially before we witness?

God does not coerce, but He did convince Jonah that obedience was preferable to becoming tuna delight. God was patient with Jonah and wanted to show His mercy to Nineveh.

The child of God who loves the Lord will not need to be forced to share God's love.

True compassion waits without distress (Jonah 3:10-4:4) Arm-twisting to elicit a witness often results in arm-twisting to receive the witness or at least one sore arm. Jonah's sore arm keeps showing.

God in His patience forgave the people of Nineveh in their repentance, and Jonah in his petulance railed against God for His grace and compassion. Jonah could not get past, "I told You so You're a good God."

Why he couldn't see the insanity of his gripe is beyond me until I realized how easily my agenda rules my heart contrary to what God may want to do.

In his flight to Tarshish, Jonah's distress was compounded by having taken matters into his own hands. He offers this action as justification for his anger and proof of his clever insight into the ways of God (Jonah 4:2). His cruise of disobedience must have heightened his distress as he reflected on the odyssey, which had brought him thus far.

How could he be so wrong? The same is very often true of us. Without godly compassion we assume, "It's all about us." We are the objects of concern, and in the extreme, if things do not go our way we would just as soon die as live. That is where Jonah was.

True compassion wants what God desires (Jonah 4:6-11; 2 Peter 3:9, 15) Waiting in peace and witnessing with love reflects the heart of one who wants what God wants. He cares about His creation. He "relents concerning calamity." God is slow to anger, gracious and compassionate. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

How can we defend our vengeful attitudes? We get as emotionally involved over the characters in our TV shows as Jonah did his little gourd.

How can we cultivate the flower of compassion to shade our angst?

First, recognize that God's purpose is always redemptive. "The Lord is not slow but is patient not wishing any to perish but for all to come to repentance... Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation" (2 Peter 3:9, 15).

Second, remember that God is the creator. If we care so much about things in which we have invested no creativity or resources, won't God care for His creation?

Third, realize that God is sovereign. He shows mercy to whomever He chooses, whether those individuals or groups are our choices or not.

Since God's desire is for "all to come to repentance," we should never risk the contemptuous attitudes Jesus condemned in Matt. 5:22. Jesus taught that anger is tantamount to murder and to call someone "good-for-nothing" or "fool" leaves us guilty.

Let us want what God desires and allow Him to vindicate our witness, and demonstrate the abundance of His loving kindness.

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8/23/2002 12:00:00 AM by John Tagliarini , Jonah 3:1-3a, 10; 4:1-3, 6-11; 2 Peter 3:9, 15 | with 0 comments
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