A Lesson on Mercy

And the LORD said, “Do you do well to be angry?” Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the LORD said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
Jonah 4:4–11
A Lesson on Mercy
To say Jonah was a reluctant prophet would be an understatement. He flees God and tries to travel as far away from where he was supposed to go, only to be caught in a storm and thrown overboard. Hoping for death, Jonah is rescued by God through the great fish. Then afterward he sits and sulks. Jonah has a priceless opportunity to preach God’s Word to the people of Nineveh, but his heart was not in it. He did not want to understand the extent of God’s concern for people who were enemies of Israel. Jonah had hoped misfortune would befall them. So often this is the case with us. We have the great privilege of sharing God’s Law and Gospel with the world around us. We have opportunities to be part of His plans. Yet too often we attempt to look the other way, hoping those who mock us and mistreat us will meet God’s vengeance as opposed to His mercy and forgiveness. Let us always be mindful of our task of sharing God’s Word with all people, even those whom we don’t really like. We give thanks and praise to God that He did not neglect us but gave His only-begotten Son as our Savior. Our Lord gives us opportunity after opportunity to share the good news of salvation with others, no matter who they are. May we always avail ourselves of them.
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