Let me be clear. It is the responsibility of every Christian to tell others about the Lord Jesus Christ. Think about what America would look like if all the Christians would simply declare to those around them the Gospel. My, how it would change things fast! That would be change you can believe in! Jonah was instructed by God to go proclaim His Word to Nineveh, but Jonah refused to go. Let’s take a look at four poor character traits of Jonah.
1. HE WAS SELFISH
Verse 3, “But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” Jonah had no desire to go preach to Nineveh. Jonah, being an ardent patriot of his country, felt God should judge Nineveh because they were the enemy of Israel. He completely rebelled against the God he served. Not only did he refused to go, but he went the opposite direction towards Tarshish! How often do we do this same thing? We clearly know we are to be a witness. However, we not only fail to go, but we find some other direction to go to avoid being a witness. Jonah’s selfishness took him in the wrong direction. The nature of a Christian is to be the exact opposite of selfish. We are to “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Philippians 2:4. We are to be concerned about everyone and the state of their souls. They will spend eternity somewhere.
2. HE WAS APATHETIC
Verse 4-5, “But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken… But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.” Many events that take place in life are due to the choices that we make. Jonah knew this was no different. He knew that this was a supernatural storm. The sailors knew that it was a supernatural storm. Yet, Jonah made his bed and went to sleep. The disregard that he has shown for his own life is pretty bad. What makes this worse is that his own rebellion endangered the lives of those whom he was with. “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.” Romans 14:7. Every Christian by the nature of the decision to obey or disobey God has an effect on others, whether they want to acknowledge it or not. Many of us are just like Jonah – asleep!
3. HE WAS QUIET
Verse 8, “Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?” Jonah was an undercover Christian. The sailors knew nothing of who he was or what he did. Jonah was a PREACHER! Preachers don’t need pulpits to preach. They are to preach no matter where they are or what they are doing. Christians are to be no different. Everywhere you go, your conversations should steer people to the Gospel and the things of God. Declare God’s truth always. Carry it out in front of you!
4. HE HAD AN EXCUSE
Verse 16, “Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.” This last spring, I roto-tilled my garden and then failed to plant anything in it. Yet, I still had tomatoes grow up in it. We enjoyed some of those tomatoes on our salads. These tomato plants grew up and produced fruit, not because of the roto-tilling, but inspite of it. Do not mistake God using you in your rebellion as a sign of his approval. Those sailors learned to fear Jonah’s God so much that they sacrificed and made vows. It was a life changing experience for THEM. But God did that in the midst of Jonah’s rebellion. It is good that these men’s lives were touched, but that is no excuse for Jonah’s willful rebellion. Too often, we use the little bit of fruit that we see in our rebellion to soothe our conscience from doing what God really wants us to do. Let’s not forget that God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh and see tens of thousands saved!
God has given us all equally the task of taking the gospel to the world (Matthew 28:18-20). When Jonah finally went to Nineveh, he was obedient; yet he still desired their destruction. We cannot be the effective witness that God wants us to be if we are always selfish, apathetic, quiet, and making excuses. If you have any of these same tendencies that Jonah had, repent of them and ask the Lord to strengthen you to be a witness for him.