Know the Truth, Love the Truth, Live the Truth

Jonah

Here is a challenging question: Do you love the truth? Let’s assume for the moment that we know what is true. Knowing the truth, do we love it? Do we want the truth? Do we desire the truth? Do we delight in the truth?

Jonah is a well-known biblical character, mostly because he got swallowed by a fish. He is interesting and instructive to us for far more important reasons, however. The story of Jonah basically goes like this: Jonah was a prophet whom God told to go preach in the city of Nineveh; instead of going to Nineveh Jonah ran away from the Lord by boarding a ship headed for Tarshish; God sent a storm on the sea that eventually led the sailors on the ship to throw Jonah overboard; God sent a fish to swallow Jonah; Jonah spent three days and nights in the belly of the fish; the fish then spit Jonah out onto dry ground; for a second time God told Jonah to go to Nineveh; this time Jonah went and preached and the people of Nineveh – from the greatest to the least – repented of their evil; God saw their repentance and did not destroy Nineveh; and Jonah became angry with God for not destroying Nineveh.

We can ask three questions of Jonah in this story. First, did Jonah know the truth? Yes, Jonah knew the truth that God was the creator of everything (1:9) and he knew the truth that God was a gracious, merciful, and forgiving God (4:2) not least because he had personally experienced God’s mercy (chapter 2). Second, did Jonah live the truth? No, Jonah did not live the truth because he blatantly disobeyed God (chapter 1) and because he was angry at God’s mercy to the people of Nineveh even though he knew God was merciful (chapter 4). Third, why was Jonah not able to live the truth even though he knew the truth? Answer: because Jonah did not love the truth. In fact, Jonah gave his correct understanding of God’s character as the very reason for his original disobedience to the Lord (4:1-4). It is one thing to know the truth, and it is another thing to live the truth. What is needed to connect what we know and how we live is love. Jesus said in John 14:15: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”