Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me. (Jonah 1:2)
One year, as a teacher, I had a class that was known for being difficult. Sometimes I found myself giving way to anger as I dealt with their misbehavior. But I learned some patterns that helped decrease the discipline needed for disobedient students. The most effective strategy was consistent communication. If I gave a verbal warning the first time a student began to exhibit disobedience, reminding them that repeated disobedience would be followed by a consequence, most students chose to respond to the warning and correct their behavior.
Many times, I have squirmed in church, feeling strangely exposed as a preacher gave warnings that seemed directed right at me. It is often easy to feel that conviction is a personal attack from one who is eager to harm us. A more mature Christian understands, however, that warning and conviction from God are the exact opposite of war cries from an enemy. Conviction is his invitation to protect or renew our relationship with him.
God could have sent Nineveh’s destruction immediately. Their wickedness had already “come up before” him. Instead, he sent a warning. He had no obligation to notify the people of their punishment in advance. Yet he did, and so we see his true desires. God didn’t want to send destruction at all. The warning was given in hopes that destruction could be prevented.
Pray for the repentance and restoration of someone who deserves punishment.
Debbie Shaw is a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University and resides in North Carolina with her husband, Lee. She enjoys gardening, painting, reading, and coffee.
© 2023 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.