In Part 1, “Is it About God or is it About Me?,” we looked at how true prophets must always be concerned that their message is in line with God’s heart and purposes. In Part 2 we asked “Is this Kingdom or is this Personal?” When we speak or write, are we advancing God’s agenda and mission or our own?
In Part 3, we seek to evaluate our own attitude. Is what we speak coming from God or our less-than-holy – disposition?
Question 3: “Is my attitude in line with God’s heart?”
In the book of Jonah, we are taught how a person can do the right thing but have the wrong attitude about it. After fleeing from God in the opposite direction of his assignment, Jonah was treated to a whale of a ride back to where he was supposed to go in the first place. After his fishy experience he was ready to do what God required of him, but his attitude was wrong.
From a human perspective, it is easy to justify Jonah’s attitude. The people God was giving the opportunity to repent were the same people that had enslaved and mistreated Jonah’s people. He wanted God to destroy them. He wanted vengeance and justice. God, however, desired to win the hearts of the people and gave them yet another opportunity to repent. His chosen spokesman for this opportunity? Jonah.
When the task was finished, Jonah’s worst fears were realized. The people did indeed repent, and God spared them His wrath. Jonah sulked and felt sorry for himself. He felt used. A result that Jeremiah would have loved and didn’t get, Jonah got but despised.
God used a vine to awaken Jonah’s heart to compassion. In similar fashion, God uses situations, events and other people to awaken us to a better understanding of how much He loves the people that we interact with. That person that we are short with or treat with contempt is someone God sent His only Son to die for.
If we look at it from God’s perspective, there is never a good reason to treat anyone with less than the highest respect. While we should encourage people to righteousness, we never have the right to diminish them or treat them as anything less than a Prince or Princess. Even if they haven’t accepted Jesus yet, a Prophet looks not toward the problem, but toward the possibility.
We all fall short in this area, but keeping the question in the forefront of our mind is key to improving and becoming the kind of encouragers and bearers of the “Good News” that God desires us to be. We are each made in His image and He wants nothing more than for us to act like it and treat others the same.