Sermon "Skill in Your Hand & God in Your Heart"

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Hate is no longer an Option

You know the story Jonah right? God told him to go to Nineveh to tell the people to repent; Jonah didn't like the Ninevites and didn't think they deserved the chance to change, so he went in the opposite direction; got on a ship; a storm came;  the men on the ship threw him overboard (at Jonah's request because he'd rather be tossed out to sea during a raging storm than to turn back towards Nineveh); then the great fish that God sent swallowed him up; he prayed in despair while in its belly for 3 days and nights; the fish spit him out onto the beach, back in the direction of Nineveh. Then God told him the second time to go to Nineveh and tell the people to repent. Well, Jonah went, but he wasn't happy about it. I imagine he kicked every rock on the way to that great city.

You know it's easy to look down our noses onto the pages of the book of Jonah and think of how ashamed he should have been of himself. But I think instead we should let the same light of God's truth examine our hearts that examined Jonah's. Think about it for a moment. Where would it be that if God told you to go and share the Gospel you'd go with your lip poked out? For whom in your heart are you harboring hate such that it's impossible for them to see God's love through you? Wherever it is or whoever it is, we'd best ask God to deal with that right now, because you just may be their messenger God is preparing to carry the message of Jesus.

If you are a Christian, then here is a big, dry pill you and I both need to prepare ourselves to swallow...When we said yes to Jesus and surrendered our lives in repentance to God, there were things we had to give up. And one of those things is the right we feel like we have to hate people. (Told you it was big and dry...so let me say it again). As Christians, we are required to give up our right to hate people. Read this.. "Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love." 1 John 4:7 (NLT)

I know sometimes you may feel like you have the right to hate a certain person. Jonah did. The Ninevites were godless, cruel, violent people who for a long time had done his people wrong. And certainly if you told us what that person did or said about you, we'd probably not blame you for hating them. But you need to remember. No matter what they did, God still loves them. Just like no matter what you did, God still loves you.

Look, the Ninevites may not have deserved the chance to change. But the way God calculates things, it's not about what we deserve. It's about what He wanted to give. And what He gave was His grace. And the same grace He showed to Nineveh, and to me and you, is the same grace He wants to show through us to others.

I know, I know. It's tough...so let's pray about it...

Heavenly Father, I pray that You examine our hearts. If You find that we have been quick to hate and slow to love, then I ask that You forgive us. We don't deserve Your love, but I thank You for being gracious and looking past our faults and giving it to us anyway. Help us to do the same for others so that through us they may get to know You. In Jesus name. Amen.

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