In The Shop

In The Shop

In The Shop

Study Text – Jonah 4:5-10

Key Verse – Jonah 4:10 "But the Lord said, "You have been
concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It
sprang up overnight and died overnight."

Anyone who owns a car or has even driven a car is familiar with the phrase
"In the shop." This is where we take our vehicles when they need
maintenance. Although, we don’t have to put our cars in the shop that often,
there is one thing that we do need to keep in the shop at all times: Our
Blessings. In this week’s text we look at Jonah and what happens when he fails
to maintain a blessing he received from the Lord.

This portion of Jonah’s story shows him going out toward the eastside of
Nineveh to wait and see what was going to happen to the city. Upon reaching his
destination, he built himself a "booth"(KJ) for shade (5th). Also,
for additional shade, the Lord provided a vine for his head to ease discomfort.
This of course made Jonah very happy, for even though he did not ask for it,
the Lord had compassion on him (6th).

The next day God did two things to show Jonah and us the importance of
"Blessing Maintenance."

First, God sent a worm before dawn, which chewed through the vine and caused
it to wither (7th). Now if Jonah would have just picked up the worm and removed
it he would have remained blessed, but he didn’t even do that. Lack of
maintenance is possibly the most common way blessings are lost. If we do not
take care of our blessings they may become transformed into something else
which is usually not a blessing.

Second, God sent a scorching east wind and the sun. This shows us that when
we lose these blessings there are consequences that do follow. When we don’t
use that voice we have to sing God’s praises or that spirit of diligence to
serve the Lord there is a cost. Don’t believe that God is going to let us slide
out of serving Him without a cost – THERE IS A COST FOR LOSING YOUR BLESSING.
We see in the text that Jonah’s cost was the severe wind and scorching sun that
beat down on his body. The cost was so severe that Jonah grew faint and even
desired to die(8th). If it were up to Jonah, he would have paid with his life –
That’s a huge cost for a vine.

Even though he survived, Jonah was angry about losing the vine. Of course
God knew this and He asked Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about
the vine?" Jonah replied, "I do… I am angry enough to
die(9th)." Now correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t this a really silly
request to make, especially to our God who can easily fulfill this request. Yet
in a 2005 perspective we make this very statement every day. We say, "This
(job, child, class, etc.) is going to kill me." Or we say, "This
broken down (car, house, copy machine, computer) is going to be the death of
me." [You had better stop claiming these to ensure that they will not come
to pass.]

Even though we run into problems with some of the things we just mentioned,
why do we make these statements? It is all due to a lack of blessing
maintenance. All these things are blessings and when we don’t take care of the
blessings they become less of what they should be. This was what happened to
Jonah but here is the real kicker. Just like Jonah, we don’t get mad because WE
did not take care of the blessing; WE GET UPSET BECAUSE THE BLESSING DID NOT
TAKE CARE OF ITSELF.

In our final study verse, the Lord speaks to Jonah and tells him, "You
have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow
(NIV-10th)." If you look at these scriptures, you NEVER see Jonah say,
"I should have taken better care of the vine." Now let’s ask
ourselves these questions: "Can a car take itself to the service center?"
"Can a house clean itself?" "Can my children grow up righteous
on their own?" The answer to all of these is NO!! The blessings we
have must be cared for (NOT CURSED AT) in order to remain blessings in our
lives.

If Jonah would have cared for the vine it might have grown and offered more
shade or even produced fruit for his consumption. The same holds true
for all of our blessings especially our jobs. Yes, your job is a blessing and
if you start "tending" it you may see it bear fruit (raises,
promotions, bonuses and better evaluations). And, even if none of these come
and you still earnestly "tend the vine" God may bless you with a
brand new job opportunity that has exactly what you want. Remember, if you are
not faithful over a few things you can’t be steward over many (Matthew 25:21).
Keep your blessings "in the shop" and well maintained so that you can
get the most milage out of them.