Understanding Grace – Jonah and Paul

Reading Time: 6 Minutes

It is one thing to know the dictionary definition of grace and completely another to experience it.

Jonah and Paul experienced different aspects of God’s grace. Our thoughts today center around God’s amazing grace, as illustrated by these two men.

Morning: Jonah – Grace for Enemies

The Book of Jonah is more than a story about a man and a big fish. It is a story of God’s love and grace to a very undeserving nation of people.

When Jonah arrived in Nineveh, he walked through the city proclaiming a message of judgment, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3.4).

From the most insignificant citizen to the king, people responded to Jonah’s message with repentance. They fasted, put on sackcloth, sat in ashes, and cried out to God for mercy.

They hoped for mercy and said, “Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish” (Jonah 3.9).

When God forgave the sins of this corrupt and evil nation, they were spared for only one reason: his grace and mercy.

Jonah told God, “I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing” (Jonah 4.2).

The grace that Jonah was quite happy to receive in the belly of the great fish, he was unwilling to see extended to his hated enemies. Jonah told God that he would rather die than to see the people of Nineveh forgiven.

God responded and asked Jonah to search his heart. He said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4.4).

Jonah wasn’t willing to receive either logic or guidance from the One who had recently saved his life. As a result, God gave him an object lesson.

God prepared a plant to grow up quickly to give Jonah shelter from the heat (Jonah 4.6-8). One day Jonah had shelter, but the very next day God had a worm destroy the plant. Once again, Jonah was extremely angry.

For a second time, God asked Jonah if it was right for him to be angry. Jonah declared his right in no uncertain terms (Jonah 4.9).

God then explained grace to Jonah by using a comparison from the lesser to the greater. He said, “You are concerned about the bush . . . it came into being in a night and perished in a night.

“And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?” (Jonah 4.10-11),

Think About It

As you pray today, please consider these thoughts from the Book of Jonah.

(1) Think about your enemies. They may have harmed you, offended you, or just thought differently about life than you. They are creations of God and he loves them just as much as he loves you.

(2) Jesus taught us: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5.44-45).

Rather than being like Jonah, ask for the same grace from God for one of your enemies that you would like to receive from God today.

Evening: 1 Corinthians – Jesus, the Grace-Giver

When we live in a relationship with Jesus Christ, we receive a quality of life that is abundant beyond measure.

Paul wrote, “He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1.30).

The grace that was on display in Nineveh is grace that we can experience today in a relationship with Jesus. As we live with Jesus, the Source of life, we receive four gift of grace from him.

(1) Wisdom from God — This is the right use of knowledge. the choice of the best goals in life, and the best means to accomplish them. Wisdom is the ability to judge what is the most just, most proper and most healthy way of life.

When people surrender their self-will to God and begin living in a friendship relationship with him, he is able to change them from being as “dumb as a box of rocks” into very wise people.

This kind of wisdom is a gift of God’s grace and demonstrates his love for people.

(2) Righteousness — This gift of grace refers to being able to live in a right standing with God. Paul taught that the message of the cross contained “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1.24).

Like the people of Nineveh and hardhearted Jonah, we all need our rebellious hearts conquered, so we can genuinely relate to God. The cross of Jesus Christ was God’s powerful and wise means of drawing us into a relationship with him.

A friendship relationship with Jesus creates an atmosphere where he will impart to us the attitudes and actions that characterize his nature and character.

(3) Sanctification — What is holy has been touched by God and is set aside for his use. That is the root meaning of “sanctification.”

Jesus graciously “touches” us through the work of the Holy Spirit. In turn, he sets us aside for his use to serve our families, friends, work associates, and more.

(4) Redemption refers to a purchase that is made to free someone from slavery.

Jesus stated, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (John 8.34).

However, because of his amazing grace, he could also say, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8.36).

When people accept in faith what Jesus did for them on the cross, it releases a power that becomes the source of our lives. It allows us to enter into a friendship relationship with God and to appropriate wisdom, freedom and usefulness in connection with him.

Think About It

Please end your day with a time of thanksgiving for the gift of his grace through Jesus and the cross. Thank him for the four great blessings of his grace that Paul described in 1 Corinthians 1.30.

May We Pray for You?

The prayer team at Maywood Baptist Church is honored to pray for you. Please email me at bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. We will pray for you.

3 Comments

  1. Ah, Jonah! So hard-headed and bitter! The book ends with him still grumbling and ungrateful. And yet, God used him. God used Jonah to reach the hearts of Ninevah, even when his own heart was bitter and calloused.

    I wonder, then, what blessings of joy and peace did Jonah let slip by him because of his self-centered outlook?

    And next, of course, I must look at my life and ask “Where have I been ungrateful to You, Lord?” “And where did You use me in spite of my grumbling and selfish spirit?” It is good to know that God’s grace keeps moving, in spite of my human tendencies and failures. And at the same time, it leaves me saddened that I may have missed seeing God’s amazing power while I was self-focused and pouting about my own position in life!

    But then….we turn to the New Testament. We see the cross. We know Jesus. I am ever thankful to live in a post-cross world where my sins are covered by His blood. Where I can have a bold confidence that Heaven is real. That salvation is complete in Christ. Even as we await His return, we have the confirmation of His Story proven in history. Of His resurrection. Of His life. Grace.

    And so, we look at obedience. God will accomplish His purpose. We can jump in and obey, or be a Jonah and selfishly hope that our evil neighbor “get his.” Or we can put our focus on living the Jesus-kind-of-life that satisfies, blesses and puts peace in our hearts. I choose the latter.

    Father, what steps toward obedience must I follow today? Open my eyes and heart to see Your grace on those around me. I love You, Father – and want to follow You. Amen

    Liked by 1 person

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