Today's reading is about the Divisive Tongue. It begins by asking us to consider people who deliberately sow dissension. As I read that I felt a tiny bit okay, because I didn't think I deliberately did it.
But then I turned the page and read where it tells us about the goals of the Enemy. "He will cause us to become offended over a harmless statement, to read more meaning into a comment than the speaker intended, to ascribe impure motives to someone's behavior, or to believe a lie." And I find that when I am being offended in this way, I in turn become more divisive. Ouch!
At the same time, my Bible study lesson this morning was about Jonah. Many people know about Jonah being swallowed by a whale. But the whole story is that the reason Jonah was in the ocean at all was because he was running away from God! God had told him to go preach to some people in Ninevah and he didn't want to. He didn't like those people. They weren't like him and they weren't NICE! So he jumped aboard a ship, a big storm blew up, he told the sailors to save themselves by throwing him in the sea, so there he was. And wouldn't you know that God wouldn't let him die and AVOID the mission! God sent a big fish to rescue Jonah. But he let Jonah stew in fish juice for three days until Jonah worked out what was really at the heart of the issue.
Even then, after Jonah went and preached to the people and they repented and started worshiping the Lord Jonah was miffed! He still didn't like those people! And God asked Jonah what right Jonah had to say who would and would not be saved.
In my Bible study lesson, one of the questions was whether there was a "Ninevah" mission in my life that God keeps sending me on and that I would prefer to run away from. Double barreled ouch! There are two people in my life that I can't help but be around and who I KNOW are my Ninevah mission. Like Jonah, I don't like them and they aren't like me. And over the years they've been often unkind or indifferent.
A mission to people who are unwilling, unwelcoming and unloving is difficult. After years and years of this, I am tempted to do a Jonah and jump a ship for Tarshish. Or worse, have an attitude of grudging obedience. Do I really look forward to these people coming to know the Lord? Do I really want to share the "goodies." Don't I want God to like me better because I knew Him and obeyed Him first?
Ouch, ouch and ouch.
Lord help me love them the way you do, and passionately desire their hearts to yield to you. Help me not to be divisive when my feelings are hurt. And if I'm not feeling particularly energetic in loving them, at least help me not be a stumbling block, and kindle in me a desire to serve more enthusiastically in this area.
Because it is God's preference for us to sow peace, I would like to offer a giveaway of The Peacemaker book. This is the student edition of The Peacemaker: Handling Conflict without Fighting Back or Running Away by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson. If you would like this book, please leave me a note in the comments. I'll announce the winner on Wednesday.