Chapter-a-Day Jonah 3

Street preacher. The people of Nineveh listened, and trusted God. They proclaimed a citywide fast and dressed in burlap to show their repentance. Everyone did it—rich and poor, famous and obscure, leaders and followers. Jonah 3: 5 (MSG)

If I were Jonah, I would have been a bit cynical as I started preaching in the streets of Nineveh. I would have expected people to laugh at me, reject me, and hurt me. The last thing I would have expected was for the people to actually listen and repent. Jonah's story is a great reminder that you never know how and when people will respond to God's Message. You can only proclaim, you can't predict.

I've been preaching and teaching for many, many years. I've delivered messages that I'd crafted with care, only to feel my words die as they left my lips. The message seemed to fall on deaf ears. I've also experienced times when the simplest message spoken without preparation becomes like the falling pebble that starts an avalanche. You just don't know how your words will be received.

Somewhere along the line, every wise teacher, parent, preacher, and employer learns that you can't make someone listen. You can't anticipate or control the effect your words will have on your hearer. You can only speak the truth, love, let it go, and leave the rest to God.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickrand gusset.

2 thoughts on “Chapter-a-Day Jonah 3”

  1. 4 Jonah entered the city, went one day’s walk and preached, “In forty days Nineveh will be smashed.”
    5The people of Nineveh listened, and trusted God. They proclaimed a citywide fast and dressed in burlap to show their repentance. Everyone did it—rich and poor, famous and obscure, leaders and followers.
    I’m not sure that I have the spiritual gift of discernment, but I do have a strong moral sense on certain issues. There have been a couple of times in my life where I have felt it so strongly that I felt it my duty and obligation as a Christian brother to meet with individuals to hold them accountable for their decisions. There is nothing more uncomfortable. Yet, I read this today and think about Jonah. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a parade to walk the streets of Ninevah preaching destruction to perfect strangers. Yet he did it. When God calls you to proclaim His Message, don’t delay. Trust His call and trust that the audience will receive the Message through the messenger.

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