“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”
An idol is anything that we are attached to, devoted to or addicted to that becomes a substitute for a true relationship with the living God. The story of Jonah is one that always captures our attention, but our Scripture for the day is one of the key verses in the whole of this short book.
The heart of the story is whether or not Jonah was willing to be obedient to God. He had been asked by God to go and preach to the evil people of Ninevah, but in his rebellion against the word of the Lord, Jonah set off in the other direction and boarded a ship to Tarshish. When a terrible storm threatened the safety of everyone on board, the crew threw Jonah, the man who was running away from God, overboard.
And in the belly of the fish that swallowed him, Jonah came to his senses and spoke out to God the profound words we are reading today, “those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” A worthless idol is anything which turns our heart from God and makes us run away from Him. Many are the circumstances that people can end up in as a result of disobedience and running away from what people know to be right and true. Even seemingly innocent things can be a deceptive idol if they rob us of the time which we should be spending in coming close to God.
I’m conscious as I write this Seed that there may be many people who are suddenly being convicted of the sin of idolatry – never having seen before how idolatry is not necessarily bowing down to a false image – but filling our thoughts, words and deeds, the sum total of which amounts to running away from the Lord.
The good news of the Jonah story is that in his precarious condition, he quickly repented. The result Was that God gave Jonah a second chance to do what God had asked him to do in the first place. God is a gracious God – He longs to give us a second chance, but sometimes He allows very difficult things to happen in our lives to get our attention, so that we may turn once again to Him.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that You helped Jonah to see the truth of his situation and gave Him a second chance. Help me, Lord, to examine my own heart and see if there is anything that I have made an idol of, so that I may, through repentance and a change of heart, experience once again the grace of God. In Jesus’s name, Amen.