Summary: God, obedience, other people should be the order of priorities for the Christian.
Setting Your Priorities Jonah 4:10, 11
INTRO.: God was teaching Jonah a lesson with the vine. He provided it for Jonah’s comfort then destroyed it. The lesson is brought home in the question which closes the book of Jonah. No answer is supplied in the text. God wants Jonah to think about it and come to his own conclusion.
The vine is not important in comparison to the thousands of people who populate Nineveh. God is telling Jonah to get his priorities straight.
In Matthew 10:29-31, Jesus makes a similar comparison in an attempt insure His disciples of the Father’s loving care.
As we consider the matter of priorities, I want to suggest three things which should be most important to Christians.
I. God is extremely important:
A. He is in control of everything:
1. Jonah’s history lists four things God provided. Three are in verses 6-8.
2. In this way, God’s control of the situation is emphasized. He is in charge.
3. Only by His power could Nineveh be converted.
4. He is in charge of the universe and your life.
B. His will should be supreme in all we do.
1. Often we make decisions without considering what He may want for us.
2. Like Jonah, we decide which way to go on the basis of our personal preferences only.
3. Jonah learned what God wants is more important than his personal comfort or wish for Nineveh to be destroyed.
C. He is a God of compassion and grace Who wishes the best for us:
1. He was willing to spare sinful Nineveh and work with rebellious Jonah. He wants no one to die.
2. There have been times I tried to work out problems with my own wisdom and strength and met with failure and frustration.
3. But, when I have turned my problems over to God, knowing I could not handle them, He has always met my needs.
4. God is most important.
II. Obedience is important. It should be given priotiry:
A. We see this in God’s dealing with Jonah:
1. Everything obeyed God; the wind and waves, the great fish, the Ninevites, the vine, the worm.
2. Only Jonah rebelled and brought disaster on himself.
3. When he finally obeyed, he was richly blessed with success even in spite of himself.
4. Of all the creatures God put on earth, man is the only one with the power to disobey. That’s why our obedience is so important.
B. Obedience is essential to our salvation: Matt. 7:21
1. Mere verbal assent to the truth of God is not enough.
2. When judgement comes, every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus is Lord.
3. But, the standard of judgement will be doing the will of the Father. Especially in relation to Jesus.
C. Obedience is also essential to living a Christian life:
1. We’ll serve sin or righteousness. Rom. 6:16-18
2. Obedience is not a one time event, but a lifetime calling.
3. Grace doesn’t eliminate the need for obedience.
III. People are important:
A. Jonah was glad for the vine because it comforted him.
1. Yet, he could not rejoice over the salvation of thousands. Imagine the rejoicing in Heaven.
2. The typical human attitude is nothing is important unless it effects us directly. This is not God’s attitude.
3. Even the cattle are important to Him because they benefit His people.
B. People are even more important than personal comfort or security.
1. This was the lesson for Jonah.
2. Occasionally someone lays hold on this truth and we have a missionary who leaves comforts of home and family and a secure income to serve in some impoverished land.
3. Paul gives others as a motive for working in Eph. 4:28
C. Matt. 25:40, 45 stresses importance of people in Jesus’ sight.
1. Our attitude toward people reflect our attitude toward God.
2. People provide opportunities to serve God.
CONC.: Some things are more important than others. People are more important than stuff. Obedience, than comfort or security, God is more important than anything.