Whales, Worthless Idols and Grace (Revised)

I wrote these words a few years ago.  Today they ring even clearer as our world chases worthless idols.  All around us is the quest for the idols of the world…fame, success, money…and yet in the quest for those things we forfeit the most important thing. Your choice (and mine) is simple…worthless idols or grace.  You can’t have both.

I came to Jonah chapter two this morning and as I read I stopped at verse 8. Rather, verse 8 stopped me! I read it over at least 10 times as I thought about Jonah’s words,

Jonah 2:8- “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”
These words were part of Jonah’s prayer when he finally gave in to God’s will as he sat in the belly of the big fish. At the end of this prayer God instructs the fish to spit him out and Jonah finally obeys God’s commands to him.
But let me camp for a minute on this verse…”Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”
I honestly had never seen this verse before. It had to be there for the first time today. I know I have read this passage hundreds of times before, but I never saw this. It’s profound! It’s life changing to me. When we cling to the worthless idols of our lives we forfeit (miss, give up) the grace that COULD BE OURS. You can’t hold onto your idols and grasp grace as well. You have to let go of one to find the other.
I looked up the definition of forfeit for this discussion and here’s what it means: “something to which the right is lost, as for commission of a crime or misdeed, neglect of duty, or violation of a contract.” Another way of saying this is, “Those who cling to worthless idols lose the right to the grace that could be theirs.”
What idols are you clinging to that make you forfeit the grace that could be yours?
What benefits of grace have we given up to have something worthless instead?
Let me invite you to meditate on this verse for a bit and share your thoughts…in the belly of the big fish Jonah has shared with us an amazing truth to help us contrast the grace of God and any other option. It is, ultimately, the choice between the Christian faith and any other- grace or worthless idols. Cling to one and you will forfeit the other.
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