Thinking of Others and Being Mad

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Jesus

In the final events recounted in the book of Jonah, after he has successfully convinced the people of Nineveh that they will be destroyed if they don't repent and turn back to God, we find the prophet on a hilltop overlooking that great city. Jonah is unhappy. Jonah is very, very unhappy. Why, you might wonder, would he be unhappy after saving over 120,000 people from sure and certain doom? It was because his vine died.

You see, Jonah was not pleased that God had spared these people - they were his enemies. So, he sat on top of the hill in hopes that God would change His mind and destroy the city anyway. While Jonah waited, he sat under a vine that provided him with comforting shade. But God allowed Jonah's vine to die and Jonah got mad. When God asked Jonah if he had any right to be mad, Jonah indicated that he did and that he was mad enough to die.

This is when God gave Jonah one of the key lessons of the entire book: Jonah was concerned about his own personal comfort, while God was concerned about the well-being of all people. Kind of hits home, doesn't it, when we are usually far more concerned about our aches and pains than we are of the starving masses and lost souls of the world.

I've been watching with interest and sadness as our politicians argue over whether they should spend a trillion dollars more than we have on hand (and charge it to our children and grandchildren) or if we should spend 1.2 trillion dollars more than we have (and charge it to our children and grandchildren). And as they argue over spending the income of future generations so that they can make their current constituents (us) comfortable now, they let everyone know how mad they are.

And they are mad, you know, they really are.

The problem is that we all seem to have forgotten what we are here for. Just as Jonah forgot that his purpose was to seek and save the lost, we sometimes forget that we are here to help others, not take away their money so we can spend it on our own wants.  We are not here to sit in comfort under our own personal shade trees, we are here to truly see how we might help others along the way. In short, we are here to serve, not to be served.

When we discover that, the world will change. Until then, we are just going to be mad.

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus...

Philippians 2:4-5, NIV