Daily Devotion

December 8, 2013

Jonah: The People Who Make Us Feel Guilty

[Jonah] said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.”
—Jonah 1:12

When the mariners first woke Jonah from his sleep, they asked him, “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?” (Jonah 1:11). Jonah answered, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me” (verse 12). Jonah knew he was the problem. So, why would he ask them to cast him over? Why not just jump off the boat?

Sometimes rebels try to make you feel bad. If you have a forty-five-year-old son who won’t get a job, still lives at home, eats your food, and pays no rent, then it’s time to throw Jonah off the boat! When you do, don’t be surprised if he tries to make you feel guilty for doing the right thing. I can just hear his pitiful words, “You’re right; I know I should do better. I’ll just find somewhere else to stay. I guess I could sleep at the bus station.”

We can wander into storms simply by trying to help people by doing for them what they should be doing for themselves. If the mariners had not tossed Jonah off the boat, everyone would have perished. If you have people in your life who are using you for a free ride, they’re not going to voluntarily jump off the boat. If you have relatives or friends who play on your conscience and goodwill to get you to pay their bills or give them money, do you think they’re going to stop? If you have a husband who physically abuses you or has affairs on the side and you allow it, you are giving him a license to treat you like a dog.

As soon as Jonah was off the boat, the mariners began to worship God. (See Jonah 1:16.) You cannot worship God as you ought to as long as there are toxic relationships and turmoil all around. Whatever is stealing your peace and rocking your boat, whatever is taking your smile away, reach down, pick it up, and throw it overboard. Then do what the mariners did—start worshipping God.

Heavenly Father, I ask again for the wisdom to know the right people from the wrong people; and when You’ve shown me the wrong people, keep me safe from the negative effects of guilt. Give me the courage to sever ties with people who have a negative influence on my life, and help me to live purposefully for You. Amen.