One way God might convict us of a wrong attitude is to drop us onto the stage of a living parable. He did that to Jonah to show him how weedy his love was.
Jonah had run from God’s assignment to warn Nineveh of impending judgment. He ran because he knew God’s character, which includes compassion and slowness to anger. When God forgave Nineveh, Jonah wanted to die because it was so contrary to what he felt should happen to the city (Jonah 4:1-4). Perhaps Jonah felt his role was wasted; his five Hebrew words had not resulted in fiery judgment (powerful, even if it was God who judged), nothing had happened except humility and forgiveness. For those who seek power, or who crave partnership with the powerful, such an ending is frustrating.
Jonah waited to see what would happen (Jonah 4:5). He seems cynical. Perhaps he expected the Ninevites to backslide. Maybe he was hoping to be vindicated in his views. After all, Nineveh’s repentance had robbed him of the opportunity to gloat in pride that he had been right about their wickedness.
That was when the Lord arranged the living parable (Jonah 4:6-11). He appointed a plant to shade Jonah from the blazing sun. Jonah was happy. But then the Lord appointed a worm to kill the plant and a hot wind to torment Jonah. Jonah again became so angry that he begged to die.
The Lord compared Jonah’s pity for the weed with His own pity for Nineveh. Jonah had nothing invested in the plant; the Ninevites were God’s children. The book of Jonah ends abruptly with the lesson of the parable: Jonah and God are very different. Jonah’s pity is selfish; God’s pity is rooted in unconditional love. There is also the unspoken and unanswered question: “What will you do about our difference, Jonah?”
How will we answer that question? If we are deeply honest we acknowledge our vast difference from God. We might not be a Jonah who sees no solution except to run to the refuge of death but we all exhaust our love and pity at some point. If only the flow of God’s loving nature into our hearts was unhindered.
John gave us a simple equation: “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). Our awareness of God’s love for us empowers us to love others. The two parts of the equation are inseparable: we must bask in God’s love for us in order to truly love others; if we fail to love others it is a sign that we are not really in a love relationship with God.
It helps to be thankful and glorify God for what we see Him do. That cements faith into place and prepares us for greater levels of service. Had Jonah been able to embrace God’s ways he would have rejoiced at Nineveh’s change, jumped on the next boat, and sailed to his next assignment.
The goal of Bible Maturity is to promote spiritual growth and faith in God. Please share these short Bible devotions with your friends and family and pray for revival.