God Loves Those Who Are Hard To Love
“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?
Truth In Real Life
“And people who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives... and when the bubble has burst they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted.”
Born on August 30, 1923, Nathanael Saint – or “Nate” – would grow up to be the most famous missionary pilot who had ever lived. From his childhood, he loved to fly and dreamed of being an airline pilot like his older brother.
Nate Saint began taking flying lessons when he was in high school and served as a pilot in World War II. He enrolled in Wheaton College, but eventually quit school to join the Mission Aviation Fellowship.
In 1948, Nate Saint and his wife Marge established an air base in an abandoned oil exploration camp. They were then able to supply nearby missionaries with medicine, mail, and needed supplies. They served God’s servants.
While returning from one particular flight to Quito, Saint got caught in some dangerous air currents and the plane crashed. The Lord preserved his life, and he considered it one of God’s ways of humbling him.
It was his humility, combined with his understanding of the risks involved, that made him just the right missionary pilot to work with Jim Elliot. In September 1955, Saint joined a team of men whose goal was to reach the Huaorani settlement. Saint discovered the settlement from the air, and the team began dropping baskets of gifts to the natives. After three months of air contact – Saint was piloting the plane – the whole team went to camp on the shore and to meet with the people on the ground.
The meetings started well, but they did not end as planned. There were misunderstandings that led to hostility, and all five of the team members were speared and killed by angry villagers.
Their story received international attention, and the men were heralded as martyrs for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Nate Saint was among those five martyrs. Through his personal testimony, he inspired many workers to join in missionary aviation efforts, risking their own lives for the sake of the Gospel.
What are you doing with the time that you have? Are you humbly spending the time and talents and other resources God has given you for Him, or for your own dreams and plans? Are God’s priorities important to you, or do you have your own priorities?
Matthew 10:39 – “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”