Summary: A look at four ways that we put our comfort above the unsaved.
WHICH IS A HIGHER PRIORITY FOR ME: My comfort or God’s compassion?
- Jonah 4:5-9.
- Verse 6 tells us that Jonah is “very happy” about the vine.
- Verses 8 and 9 tells us that the destruction of the vine puts Jonah is such a bad state of mind that he wishes he was dead. I’m sure this was partly because of the vine and partly because of the mercy that he is figuring that God is going to show to this city.
- For many of us, our heart is focused on the comfortable lifestyles that we lead as well as the good health of our loved ones. In the abstract, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy life or to have our loved ones healthy. Those are good things. The problem comes when those things have more of our heart than the eternal salvation of those around us. The problem comes when our comfort is more important to us than seeing God’s mission fulfilled.
- We often get attached to the things we have.
- We shouldn’t be because they’re only things, but they find ways to hook themselves into our hearts.
- I remember being in a car wreck years ago. It was on the I-64 bridge coming across the Kanawha into South Charleston. Someone slammed on their breaks and we ended up with five cars piled up. I was the fourth car in the accident, hitting the car in front of me and then getting slammed hard by the fifth car and spun into the median wall. One of the things I remember about that accident is that the driver of the fifth car was weeping when she got out. I thought maybe she was really hurt, but she was weeping because she had just picked up the car the day before in Lexington. Weeping over a car.
- Which bothers us more?
a. Tight finances requiring us to downgrade the car we drive or someone unsaved dying.
b. The loss of some income or an unsaved friend not coming to church.
c. Ruining that comfortable old shirt we love to wear or our church not growing.
- The plant is a lesson in misdirected love.
- There are two levels to it:
a. Level one is loving shallow things.
b. Level two is not loving meaningful things.
- Put people above possessions.
- It’s hard for us to grasp the idea that is expressed here because we weren’t witness to the antagonism between the Israelites and the Ninevehites. Here’s an analogy that might help.
- An angel appears to you and makes this offer: “I will bring a revival to Afghanistan. It will see a powerful move of the Spirit and many will be turned to Jesus. But it requires a 50% standard of living reduction in America. The choice is your’s.”
- What would you do? How would you respond?
- Someone might say, “But they tried to kill us on 9/11!”
- Someone else might say, “I don’t know anyone in Afghanistan.”
- Most of us would acknowledge in the abstract that seeing people saved should be our highest priority, but when it’s people we don’t know, have only negative feelings for, and it’s going to cost us a significant discomfort personally, it’s hard to love them more than our comfort.
- A second, similar example.
- An angel comes to twenty people in our church and says that if we give up all the money the church has in the bank that we’ll see revival in the midst of the drug problems in our county. What kind of fight would ensue in that business meeting?
FOUR EXAMPLES WHERE WE CHOOSE COMFORT OVER CONCERN:
1. SPENDING ON OUR LIFESTYLE RATHER THAN EXPANDING THE KINGDOM.
- There are some people who are barely making it and, beyond their regular giving, aren’t really in a position to give more.
- There are many of us, though, who make enough that we have the opportunity to make what I will call “lifestyle choices.” We don’t have to buy the junker – we can choose between a new car or a solid used car. We don’t have to live in a dilapidated trailer – we can choose what type of house we want.
- In those decisions, most of us ask, “What can I afford?” In other words, what’s the best lifestyle that I can pull off? It’s a testament to wanting all of material prosperity that we can have.
- Less often in those decisions do we ask, “What do I need?” That is to say, purchasing the things that are necessary to live life, but leaving room for Kingdom generosity.
- Is my greater passion to see more people know about Jesus or to have a nicer lifestyle?