He prayed to the LORD and said, “Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.” The LORD said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?” Jonah 4:2-4

You have heard that the ancients were told, “you shall not commit murder” and “Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.”  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, “You good-for-nothing,” shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, “You fool,” shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Matthew 5:21-22

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another …. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. 1 John 4:7-11; 20-21

Today’s thoughts from today’s verses:

We often create standards for ourselves to which we think we measure up. This is particularly true when it comes to love and hate. We are able to justify our attitudes and behaviors towards others by adjusting what passes for love and what passes for not being hate. Jonah felt justified about his attitudes and actions toward Nineveh, but God questioned his reasoning. Perhaps our reasoning in these areas needs to be questioned as well. Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” He also said, “Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

God’s standards are very high and that is why we need a Savior – to do for us that which we cannot do for ourselves. He gives to us the gift of forgiveness and the gift of Himself – so that He might reside in us and produce in us His own life of love and righteousness. The old saying goes, “One life and soon will pass, only what’s done for Christ will last.” Perhaps, it would be better to say, “only what’s done through Christ will last.” The Christian life is an “exchanged” life. Through surrender and dependence we exchange our own efforts for the work of Christ in us and through us. Only Christ can produce the real deal and only what he accomplishes will count in the end.

Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:

Lord, it so easy to play games and I know I have. There is much I justify that allows me mistakenly to feel alright about things that actually need to be abandoned in my approach to Christian living. Forgive me for exalting myself above others through the pride of supposed accomplishment. Forgive me for usurping your role as the true source of my spirituality. Since it is all about you, there is no room for pride and since there is no room for pride, there is no room for anything but love and acceptance of others. Amen!