Robert Burns adeptly exposed human hypocrisy with sharp humour. Like you and me, he was far from perfect, but skilled at pointing out the worst & best in humanity and great aspiration to make the world a better place: “Man to Man the world o’er shall Brithers be!”
But HOW? Burns highlights our need for a Saviour, come in the person of Jesus Christ, who offers us forgiveness and helps us to love our enemies. What would Jesus have made of ‘Willie Wastle’s Wife’? Jesus wouldn’t dodge her glaring faults & failings. Remember the woman caught in adultery and how he told her accusers, “He who is without sin cast the first stone!” And then turned to the adulterous woman to say, “Go and sin no more!”
“Sic a wife as Willie had, I wad na gie a button for her!”
Jesus would address Willie’s wife full of Grace & Truth. He’d give much more than a button for her, indeed he gave his life, ready to die for her, and for your and me! How can we be brothers & sisters, the world over? GRACE & TRUTH!
Proverbs 10:12 – “ill-will can mak a stooshie, but love can settle a stramash.” (Scots)
“Hatred starts fights, but love pulls a quilt over the bickering.” (MSG)
“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” (NLT)
And Jesus words dying on the cross: “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.” (Luke 23:34)
Who is the person or group you find difficult to get on with? Jonah’s story suggests they are the very ones God might want you to share his Kindness, Grace & Truth with. Imagine a Ukrainian sent to Russia to address President Putin & Co? Such was the hatred of Israel for Assyria – “Jonah, go preach to Assyria!”
Jonah baulks and tail turns towards Cadiz, Spain, 2,000 miles in the opposite direction, rather than the 500 miles to Nineveh (Iraqi ‘Mosul’). Jonah would rather God blasted the despicable Ninevites than give them a chance to repent and be forgiven. So a large fish swallows and spits him back into God’s Will. Some get hung up on whether, or not, someone could survive 3 days in a whale’s gut, and miss the point. The question is not, “Did this really happen?” rather “Does this happen today?” And the answer is YES! People get converted & turned around in their lives. Indeed, Jesus likened Christian conversion & baptism into his death & resurrection to Jonah’s 3 day fishy transformation.
Grace is hard to accept, believe, and receive. God’s Grace asks us to accept 2 unpalatable truths: 1. There is nothing we can do to earn God’s gracious favour, and 2. If God doesn’t save us, we’re goosed, lost forever! ‘Justice’ is getting what we deserve, ‘Mercy’ not getting what we deserve, and Grace is getting what we don’t deserve!
Ask Nelson Mandela, Gordon Wilson, or Val Jean’s generous bishop in Les Miserables, ‘Grace is not cheap’, someone must pay the price, absorb the pain, and ultimately God takes the rap for us on the cross!
So, who’s the difficult person or people God wants you to show grace and forgiveness to and help take steps closer to Jesus? Will ‘Gratitude’ or Jonah’s ‘Grrrrr-attitude’ characterise our approach? The Grace of The Lord Jesus Christ be with us all!”