Let's Talk About Spiritual Grooming

by Kevin Alton

Every week you’ll find different types of posts here on the ABS blog. Today’s post is for teachers, to encourage conversation and reflection in your Bible study group. Each “Let’s Talk About” activity can be used at any time during your meeting and lasts approximately 10-15 minutes.

Today, let's talk about...

What, This Old Thing?

Jonah 3:1-9

The Lord’s word came to Jonah a second time: “Get up and go to Nineveh, that great city, and declare against it the proclamation that I am commanding you.” And Jonah got up and went to Nineveh, according to the Lord’s word. (Now Nineveh was indeed an enormous city, a three days’ walk across.)

Jonah started into the city, walking one day, and he cried out, “Just forty days more and Nineveh will be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast and put on mourning clothes, from the greatest of them to the least significant.

When word of it reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, stripped himself of his robe, covered himself with mourning clothes, and sat in ashes. Then he announced, “In Nineveh, by decree of the king and his officials: Neither human nor animal, cattle nor flock, will taste anything! No grazing and no drinking water! Let humans and animals alike put on mourning clothes, and let them call upon God forcefully! And let all persons stop their evil behavior and the violence that’s under their control!” He thought, Who knows? God may see this and turn from his wrath, so that we might not perish.

Key Verse:
When word of it reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, stripped himself of his robe, covered himself with mourning clothes, and sat in ashes. —Jonah 3:6

Commentary:
Attention to personal grooming goes a long way in society. But we don’t see a lot of this kind of preparation of self when it comes to spiritual matters. People don’t go out of their way to dress differently when they come before God on a personal level.

There are lingering concepts of “appropriate dress” for worship, but that could be more about making other congregants happy than it is about acknowledging God’s presence. The king of Nineveh could have completely ignored Jonah’s words, but he chose instead to humble himself before God in attitude and appearance.

Questions to Discuss:
When do you feel compelled to “dress up” or follow a certain dress code? Is there an ongoing expectation within a work setting, or perhaps special events, that requires specific clothing?

Are there certain activities for which you look forward to wearing something different?

When you are entering a time specifically set aside to be in God’s presence, are there any preparations you make physically or in your attire? Why or why not?

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