And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord , is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.
Jonah 4:2 ESV
Today’s post begins with an assignment. You will need paper, a pencil, and either an eraser or a dark marker. Go ahead and get it; I’ll wait. 😉
Now divide your paper into two sections. Label one section “Sins I’ve Committed”; label the other section “Sins Others Have Committed.” Now fill in each side with several examples. Be honest. No one will see this but you and God, and God already knows anyway. When you are done, come back here.
So which column was easier to complete? For me, it was sins I committed. This is because I am often harder on myself than others. I recognize my own frailty much more than I recognize the frailty of others. I forgive others easier than I forgive myself, too. If you had an easier time filling out the sins of others, you may have the tendency to judge others or to recognize the sins of others more than you recognize your own faults. Regardless, I pray you see “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We are all as full of sin as our neighbors.
Now get out that eraser or marker. If you have an eraser, erase everything you just wrote under each column. Yes, everything under each column. If you have a marker, color over everything–yes, everything under each column.
Now, if you haven’t figured it out yet, here’s the point: Jesus died for all. He paid the price for your sins; He paid the price for the sins of everyone around you. Even if you don’t get along with someone, Jesus died for him. Even if someone hurt you or someone you know, Jesus died for her.
Jonah tried to choose who was worthy of God’s love. He ran away from preaching to Nineveh because he knew God was merciful. Jonah knew that if he preached to Nineveh and Nineveh repented, that God would relent. And Jonah did not want that to happen. Jonah wanted Nineveh to perish.
But God didn’t. For God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
None of us is God. None of us is perfect. Therefore, none of us has the right to choose who deserves the Gospel and who doesn’t. Paul reminds us in Romans 1:16 that the gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” And I hate to burst your bubble, but everyone means, well, everyone. Yup, even that person who plucks your every last nerve.
With this truth in mind, I encourage you today not to allow personal differences and past sins to keep you from sharing Jesus with those around you. Jesus did not command us to go to those who we like and preach the gospel. He commanded us to go into all the world. And as one of my professors used to say, all means all and that’s all all means.
Therefore, go into all the world and preach the gospel today. Go to your family. Go to your friends. Go to your enemies. Go to the one who makes your skin crawl. Go. Join me in not allowing human perceptions and human preferences to determine someone’s Eternity. Join me in understanding it’s not just the likeable in the lovely who deserve to hear the salvation message. It’s everyone.
Today, let’s not run from others because we know God is compassionate and merciful; let us run to them. Let’s go into all the world and preach that Gospel and make those disciples knowing God doesn’t call the righteous to repentance; He calls the sinner.
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
I Timothy 1:15-17 NKJV.