Related Verses: Jonah 3:4-4:6; Luke 19:38-42; Matt 5:43-47; 1 Cor 13; Mark 8: 22-25; Phil 2:3-5; James 2:14-17
This week the lesson begins with a very moving passage of Scripture that reveals the love Jesus had for the city in which he ministered, the incident recorded in Matthew 23:37 where is recorded his tearful remonstrance where he cried over Jerusalem saying he would fain have gathered it and its citizens under his wings like a hen gathers her chickens to protect them, but the inhabitants would not. This is one dramatic instance where we see that Jesus desired the good of those to whom he had come.
- What does it mean to desire the good of others?
- What is the motivation for this kind of usually selfless thing?
- Where does the motivation for doing this kind of thing come from?
And interesting contrast is found in the story of the ancient prophet Jonah and the attitude he manifested toward Nineveh after he had predicted its downfall only to see God showing mercy to it – Jonah 3:4-4:6.
- Do some study on the reputation of the inhabitants of Nineveh, the Assyrians. You will likely be shocked at their practices especially when at war.
- Would God be just if he did not act against such people?
- What insights did you gain into the possible reasons why Jonah was reluctant to go to Nineveh?
- What do you think caused Jonah’s attitude? Was it wounded pride? Was it fear of being charged with failure? Was it that the repentance of the Ninevites cause God to relent thereby preventing the wiping out of Israel’s great enemies?
- What do you think Jonah would need to have done in order to have a charitable reaction to the change in the mindset of those in Nineveh?
There is in the official lesson a very interesting principle stated. It was called the “Anyway” principle. Its basic contention is that we are to serve people “anyway,” in spite of their reaction or response. This principle can be seen in action in several places:
- Matt. 8:1-4 where Jesus heals a leper who came to him regardless of the reactions against him.
John 18 where Peter denies Jesus three times but Jesus still manifests love toward him.
- 2 Cor. 12:14, 15 where the Corinthian church is unappreciative of Paul’s ministration yet he works with them anyway.
- Matt. 7:12 where can be found Jesus’ Golden Rule.
- Luke 6:35 where we are admonished to do good even to our enemies.
There is mention of the great love chapter of the Bible, I Corinthians 13. After reading that thoughtfully, reflect on what never fails.
In his letter to the Philippian Church, Paul laid out a rather challenging bit of advice, so hard to do yet so good and necessary, and so much like God – Phil. 2:3-5 where we are told to do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit but to humbly value others above ourselves.
- How does a person retain a sense of self and personhood if they are always working or others? Is this not an open door to mistreatment?
- How does a person preserver personal boundaries and yet give themselves to service?
- How does a church adjust itself to being open and accepting without also creating some boundaries for itself and preserving them lest it become nothing? Or, put another way, how do we have boundaries which seem to be necessary for good living, and yet be open and receptive to those who are different?