Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Loving Your Enemies

     Have you ever met someone you just couldn’t stand? The moment they walk into the room, your smile fades, your heart sinks, and the day suddenly becomes gloomier. Sometimes, even the sound of their voice can make your stomach churn. Maybe it’s their personality. Maybe they have radically different views than you. Maybe you don’t even have a legitimate reason to dislike them, or, maybe you have a very good reason. Jonah had several reasons to hate the Ninevites. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian nation and the Assyrians were infamous for two things: their skill in battle and their cruelty in dealing with defeated nations. Common were their barbaric practices of dismembering, skinning, or burning their captives alive. Often displayed atop the walls of Nineveh were the decapitated heads of conquered kings and princes. Besides all this, the Assyrians were Gentiles who worshipped numerous false idols, many of which required abominable sacrificial rites. Israel and Assyria were diametrically opposed. Thus, we can understand why Jonah was so averse to delivering God’s message to them.

“What? Preach to Nineveh, to those Assyrians?! No! Let them die in their sins. Why should God save them?”

Yet, God had commanded him to preach to the Ninevites. The most loving thing we can do for anyone is to tell of their impending everlasting damnation and the salvation that can be found in Christ. That is love, and that was what the Lord asked Jonah to do: love his enemies.

But why? Why would God ask him to do that? After all, the Assyrians were Gentiles; God hadn’t promised to save them.

Jonah himself answers that question in Jonah 4:2b, “…for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.”

Because God is merciful. That’s the only reason any of us are saved. If God was gracious enough to save the murderous Ninevites, surely we can lovingly extend the message of salvation to even the worst of our enemies. 

"But I say unto you, 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."
- Matthew 5:44

Fun fact: I'm part Assyrian. Praise God his salvation extends to everyone, even to Assyrians!

This is the second post in a series on Jonah. To view the first post, click below.
When God's Commands are Unpleasant 


  1. That's so true - it's understandable why Jonah didn't want to go! This is all convicting. I think often we expect God's commands to be something we want to do, or something fun or heroic. But your conclusion here reminds me of Romans 5:8. Jesus died for us while we were His enemies. Thanks for sharing, Gloria, I'm enjoying this series! :)

    1. Amen, Romans 5:8 is an excellent cross-reference! To think that Christ would sacrifice His life for those who hated Him is an astounding and humbling thought. I'm ashamed to say I don't know if I'd be able to do the same for my enemies.