God’s Love and Ours – Gospel in Life

God’s Love and Ours

Tim Keller |  September 16, 1990

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  • Repentance
  • God's Love
Jonah 4:1-10
RS 10-9


Jonah was called to go to Nineveh to preach, and after a lot of detours, he did. When he got there and began to preach, we’re told that Nineveh, by and large, turned from its violence and its evil ways. Now this is a marvelous thing and we would expect great joy in Jonah’s heart. But surprise, in 4:1, we read, “But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry.” Why is that? The bottom line is Jonah can’t figure out God’s love.

Jonah, like everybody, believes in love in general, but when it comes right down to it has a fatally inadequate understanding of how love actually operates, and in particular, how God’s love actually operates. In the same way, many, maybe most, of our own struggles and collapses (just like Jonah here) are due to our own inadequate understanding of how God’s love really operates.

Let’s look at two things that God is trying to get across to Jonah. First, God’s love is refining fire. It is life-purifying. Secondly, God’s love is a seeking fire, a seeking power, a seeking love.

Jonah 4:1–11

The story of Jonah shows us how hard it can be to understand just how big God’s love is, especially when it includes people who have done terrible things. God’s love, as shown in this story, both takes care of us and challenges us, it’s given freely but also asks us to live purely and healthily. It seems that when we have problems, it might be because we don’t fully understand how God’s love works.

1. Refining

The love of God, shown through Jonah’s story, is like a purifier that protects believers from too much pain in a world full of suffering caused by sin. Things like money and success can’t really make us happy, and God shows us this by shaking up our lives, like a parent who helps a child learn by letting them face challenges. To go through tough times without becoming bitter, we need to accept criticism and disappointment, trust in God’s plan and wisdom, and use Jesus as our example when we suffer.

2. Seeking

God’s love and mercy for Jonah highlight the value of being humble and thinking of others, showing a stark difference to human selfishness and God’s love for everyone. The vine in the story shows how Jonah cared too much about his own comfort, underlining the importance of saying sorry to God and letting His love change us. We’re encouraged to make sure our feelings and actions line up with God’s values, to turn away from sin, and to get rid of any bitterness or boredom we might feel. We should pray for a better understanding of God’s love and try to live in a way that responds to that love.



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