“Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” (Jonah 1:1-2)
Tony was a boy who lived in Kevin’s neighborhood. In fact, Tony lived just a few houses away, but Kevin did not like spending time with him. The thing is, Tony was hard to like. It wasn’t that he was always mean – he could even be nice sometimes. It’s just that most of the time, Tony bullied everyone else. He always had to be the quarterback when they played football. He said mean things to everyone and did not care if he hurt anyone. Tony expected to have his own way about everything. These were just a few of the many reasons Tony was hard to like.
That’s how Jonah felt about the people of Nineveh when God told him to take a message to them. Actually, Jonah’s emotions were even stronger than Kevin’s were. There were a lot of people in Nineveh, and the people were awful to their enemies. They had treated other people with unspeakable cruelty. They were known for being ruthless in battle, never showing mercy to people who were weaker or fewer in number than they were. But God told Jonah to go to this “great city” and preach repentance and mercy to them. Jonah knew something was up when God called Nineveh a “great city.” He knew God cared about them and wanted to show mercy to them. And Jonah wanted no part of that. So he decided to make other plans.
Instead of obeying and traveling directly to Nineveh, Jonah headed in the exact opposite direction, boarded a ship, ran into a storm, and was thrown overboard. But God’s love was more powerful than Jonah’s disobedience. God cared so much about the people of Nineveh that He prepared a great fish to keep Jonah from drowning and to carry him back to land. Jonah shared God’s message with the people of Nineveh. They were sorry for their sin, and God did forgive them.
Some people are hard to like, but we have to remember that God loves them, too. Jesus tells us what our response to these kinds of people should be: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (See Matthew 5, especially verse 44.) Are we loving those who are hard to love?
God loves us, and He commands and enables us to love others – no matter who they are are how difficult they may be to love.
» How often do I think about the truth that God loves me even though I am hard to love?
» Do I know anyone who seems too hard to love?
» What will it take to change my heart toward them and share God’s message with them?