One observer said this about self-centeredness: It is the “quicksand within which nations perish.” God had to teach this lesson to the ancient prophet Jonah. Recall, God had appointed him to warn the people of Nineveh that unless they repented of their wickedness God would destroy their nation within 40 days. Rather than deliver that message, Jonah chose to run away from his assignment. After three days in the belly of the fish, he decided to obey. The people of Nineveh repented and God delayed their destruction. Jonah became angry that his message spared the Assyrians. Why? The prophet was so self-centered, so focused on his own nation that he wanted God to destroy the people of Nineveh—these foreigners. God had to teach Jonah that God’s compassion transcends national boundaries. God said to him, “Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?” In our day, we must guard against self-centeredness in all its forms, lest we find ourselves in destructive quicksand. Pride of race, pride of place, or pride of grace can cause us to look down on others and violate the compassion God wants us to display toward others.
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