Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live. But the Lord replied, “Have you any right to be angry?” –Jonah 4:3-4
As children, my sister and I got along very well. There were, of course, some things that irked her about her younger sister (me.) For example, I would take a toy she was playing with and when she reported this horrible act to my mother, I would be told to apologize. However, this was usually followed by my sister being told to share with me, which never quite seemed fair to her.
When God called Jonah, commanding him to go to Nineveh and tell the people to repent from their wicked ways, Jonah fled. I used to think he ran away as an act of being scared or feeling inadequate of what he was asked to do. However, Jonah 4:2-3 records that Jonah fled because he knew God was merciful.
When Jonah finally went to Nineveh, he preached the message God had instructed him to declare: that God would destroy the city because of its wickedness. In response to the message, the people of Nineveh repented. The forgiveness and mercy the Lord showed did not seem fair to Jonah. He wanted justice. Instead, God looked at the city like a mother to a child and as soon as they repented, He demonstrated His compassion by withholding His judgment.
It is not up to us to decide how God should treat people. It is not up to us to compare ourselves or to try to prove we are better than another. Have you found yourself in a situation like Jonah? Have you been angry when someone was shown mercy when he or she deserved punishment? Or, have you been angered when someone does not follow the Lord’s ways, but still is blessed by a promotion or an award? Are you convinced that bad things happen to good people and good things to bad people? Have you ever felt that you deserve to be blessed, but that God withholds His blessing toward you?
God’s response is simple: whom God blesses or to whom He demonstrates His mercy, is not our concern. He will have mercy on whomever He chooses. Our concern and focus should be on our own relationship with the Lord and our obedience to Him.
1. What can you do to help yourself stop playing the comparison game between yourself and others?
2. Why do you think it is easier to accept grace for yourself than for others?
Exodus 33:19; Matthew 5:7; Luke 18:9-14