How often does God put people across our path that we don't like? Ever wonder why? It could be a boss, a co-worker, a former friend, a neighbor, a family member, and even a brother or sister in Christ, or anyone else we feel animosity toward. The reason for these people entering your life is because God is conforming you to be the image of Christ, teaching you to love even your enemies so that you can be used by Him to be a vessel of compassion.

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The Jonah Syndrome

How often does God put people across our path that we don't like? Ever wonder why? It could be a boss, a co-worker, a former friend, a neighbor, a family member, and even a brother or sister in Christ, or anyone else we feel animosity toward. The reason for these people entering your life is because God is conforming you to be the image of Christ, teaching you to love even your enemies so that you can be used by Him to be a vessel of compassion. Jesus told us in (Matthew 5:44-47 NKJV) "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, {45} "that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. {46} "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? {47} "And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?

If we don't love people who curse us, hate us, use us, and persecute us then we are no better than any non-Christian; if we hate or dislike anyone can we really claim to be children of God? God brings these people into our lives for our spiritual benefit and growth, and if we obey God it will be for the benefit of our enemies also. The Lord tells us how to love our enemies we are to bless them, which is speaking good things to them, we are to do good to them, and most important we are to pray for them. Doing these things will turn our hate into love and then God can send His compassion through us to them; touching them with the most powerful force in the universe, LOVE. Love always conquers hate as light conquers darkness. Our natural flesh response is to just get away from them, thinking then our life will be better well that is what Jonah thought.

The famous story of "Jonah and the Whale" told in the book of Jonah in the Bible tells of the Prophet Jonah's ordeal when God commanded him to go to Nineveh and preach the word from God to repent or be destroyed. Nineveh was the capitol of the Assyrian Empire, the Assyrian's were a heartless, cruel, and evil people; they were great enemies of Israel. Jonah did not want them to repent, Jonah did not want God to have mercy and compassion on such people so he fled in the opposite direction getting on board a ship to escape from doing God's will.

Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. Jonah said to the ship's crew, "Pick me up and throw me into the sea, and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you." Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. Then they cried to the LORD, "O LORD, please do not let us die for taking this man's life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O LORD, have done as you pleased." Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.

But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights. From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. He said: "In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD." And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: "Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you." Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city--a visit required three days to go through the whole city. On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned."

The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: "By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish." When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live." But the LORD replied, "Have you any right to be angry?" Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine.

But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live." But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?" "I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die." But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"

Through this experience God was not just working on the people of Nineveh He was also teaching Jonah a lesson about true love and compassion. God wants us to be vessels of His compassion that He can use to reach a lost and hurting world. The people that we don't like are probably the people who are hurting the most on the inside, who are we to judge that they don't deserve the love of God to touch their hearts? Who are we to withhold good, and blessing, and our prayers for them; thus keeping the knowledge of God from them? The Christian life seems to be a series of lessons about how bad we can be and how great God's mercy and compassion is.

We must never forget that we are not in a war with people, we are in a war with Satan. The people that we consider enemies are just prisoners of war taken captive by Satan. (Ephesians 6:12 NKJV) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. The power of God, which is the power of love, can turn an enemy into a best friend. Showing love to an enemy pleases God and proves that we have great spiritual maturity. (Proverbs 16:6-7 NKJV) In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil. {7} When a man's ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

We must always remember that as citizens of heaven we are ambassadors sent to represent the kingdom, and our King, Jesus Christ. Only by compassion and love can we represent the God of love, the God of compassion. We show love even to our enemies by doing good to them. By blessing them, which is saying good things to them, and saying good things about them behind their back, speaking blessings and not cursing. (Proverbs 18:21 NKJV) Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit. The most important way we show love is through prayer, this is where spiritual battles are fought and won. Doing all these things will cause the compassion of God to flow through our hearts as a river of life. It will change our enemies' life and even if they are not affected it will definitely change our life, which is God's plan anyway.

Don't try to avoid God's will for your life you will run into a storm. If it is your destiny to be conformed to the image of Jesus, you will be conformed whatever it takes. (Romans 8:28-29 NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. {29} For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Sometimes as Christians we develop a competition mentality with our brothers and sisters. So that we with hold doing good, blessing, and even praying for our brother or sister thinking they have been blessed enough, or what if God blesses them more than me, what about me? This shows spiritual immaturity because in God's kingdom the giver is always blessed more than the receiver is. Maybe your blessing is getting held up because God wants you to bless others so He can bless you. Also the people that we think are on top and "have arrived" are the ones who need our prayers the most, these people are on the front lines of the battle and we don't know what all they are going through, but we are commanded to pray for one another. This causes us to become unified, and we know that we are a part of their success or failure by what we say and pray.

Remember Jesus told us in (Matthew 5:44-47 NKJV) "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, {45} "that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. {46} "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? {47} "And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?

(Matthew 5:9 KJV) Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.


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