A Little Humility Goes a Long Way
from the Jonah reading plan
Jonah 3:1-10 | 2 Chronicles 7:14
Finally. After a few detours, in Chapter 3 Jonah finally does what God tells him to and goes to Nineveh. Jonah’s message is short and sweet. He doesn’t tell them what they’ve done wrong. He doesn’t tell them about God. He doesn’t even tell them what they are supposed to do. He simply issues a warning that destruction is coming.
Yet the response of the Ninevites is astounding. They immediately show sorrow for their sin, fasting, and clothing themselves in sackcloth – an uncomfortable, coarse cloth made from black goat’s hair. The people’s response seems to spread like a wave across the city, and when the news reaches the king, he takes it a step further. He removes his kingly robe, dons his sackcloth, and sits in a heap of ashes, issuing a decree that everyone (even animals!) should fast, wear sackcloth and call on God. In biblical times, sackcloth and ashes was an outward sign of repentance and mourning for sin. For the king, the most powerful person in the city, to clothe himself in such a way was the ultimate display of humility.
When leaders demonstrate humility, it’s contagious and inspiring. The ability to be vulnerable, to honestly admit fault, to make steps to correct wrongdoing, is actually a sign of strength. Nineveh’s king is honest about what he and the people have done – they’ve been wicked and violent. And he’s honest that withdrawing the deserved punishment is in God’s hands – it’s not guaranteed. Yet God sees their sorrow and chooses not to destroy the city after all.
Centuries later, Jesus cited Nineveh’s humility and repentance as an example to be followed. When we courageously admit our sin and take humble responsibility for our actions, we point others to God’s grace and forgiveness.
When have you seen someone in a position of authority show humility or repentance? How did it make you feel about that person?
What roles of leadership or authority has God placed you in? (parent/grandparent, coach, teacher, small group leader, supervisor, aunt/uncle, etc.) Have you had opportunities to show vulnerability or humility to the people you lead? What was the outcome?
Spend some time talking to God, asking Him to reveal areas where you might need to confess sin and display humility and repentance to others.