“It’s not fair!”
God was merciful towards the people of Nineveh. He changed His mind about destroying the city when the people showed that they were truly sorry for their sin.
Instead of being happy that the people actually listened to his warning, Jonah was upset that God might not destroy the city after all. “I knew you are a loving and merciful God; always patient and kind, and willing to forgive,” Jonah complained.
Then Jonah went to sit and sulk outside the city where he could see whether God would destroy the city after all.
But when the forty days had passed, the Lord did not destroy the city. Instead He showed Jonah how selfish he was for thinking about himself, and not about the thousands of people who would have died without knowing the true and loving God.
Why was Jonah so upset when God was merciful?
Suppose there is a very special club at your school that only certain kids are allowed to join. After a very long time you are finally allowed to join this group. A few months go by and someone suggest that two younger kids (who annoy you) be allowed to join. How would you feel about letting them join?
Jonah didn’t mind being part of a nation that God had chosen to bless. He may have thought that God’s special favor was not only a privilege—it was his right. He felt that Israel was better than the heathen nations around them and that they deserved God’s blessing.
When Jonah saw how merciful God was to others, he became jealous and angry. Jonah had the same selfish attitude as the brother of the young man who returned home after spending all his money on friends and parties (see Luke 15:25-32).
Be happy when you see God being kind to others, remembering that next time you could be the one needing His mercy and forgiveness.
Verse for today
God said, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." Romans 9:15