Jonah 4:4-10 But the LORD replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?” 5 Jonah had gone 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. 6 Then the LORD God provided a leafy plant[a] and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. 8 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.” 9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.” 10 But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight.
The book of Jonah is about a guy who had a serious attitude problem. He was disobedient and even when he finally gave in to God and did preach to the Ninevites he was seriously unhappy that God had mercy on such a bunch of wicked foreigners. Long term Nineveh through the prophet Naham received God’s judgment but this doesn’t mean Jonah was right, they deserved God’s grace as much as he did. Mission both personally and in terms of our local churches should be primarily about attitude. It’s not about evangelistic events, mission courses or overseas trips. It is not even about overseas missionary work. Because all these things will miss out big time if the attitude is wrong. When I was serving as a missionary overseas a colleague came to me complaining about the attitude of another worker. This person he said showed signs of ‘disrespect’ to local people, of a lack of compassion, of racism. Why was this person serving as a missionary? They were doing more harm than good! There is little doubt a proud, judgmental, or cold hearted person communicates powerfully their feelings of superiority and rejection. As churches we may do our outreach with prayer, planning and excellent practice but unless those involved are willing to break down barriers in themselves to express God’s love to others we may end up putting off more people than we attract. Even when we do ‘win’ people we often end up losing them in the end as we don’t invest in their lives in the way they need.Father, forgive us a wrong attitude, help us to be humble and compassionate rather than mean spirited.