Who Cannot Distinguish

Today’s devotion from Jonah. The account of Jonah’s ministry is well known, and often devolves into a quaint Bible story for children. However, the true power of these events is not in a storm or a great fish. No, the issue at the heart of Jonah is compassion. Even after God has confronted Jonah about going to serve these people, and his being among them for days during his preaching there, Jonah is unmoved.

He saw the children playing in the street. Yet, he longed for the destruction of the city and its inhabitants. He was actually angered by God’s decision to show mercy to these people. However, he felt perfectly vindicated in feeling rage and grief over the loss of a plant that he had invested nothing in growing or maintaining.

As a prophet of the Lord, God confronted him with a truth. The people of Nineveh were broken so deeply that they were incapable of making right decisions. Modern theologians would refer to this as a state of total depravity. They were so mangled by sin that they were unable distinguish their right from their left.

Instead of contempt, God is teaching compassion. It is all too easy to be angry at those who hurt us. However, should we really be surprised when broken people reveal their flaws? Should we not pity those who have not experienced the love of God that transforms both inside and out?

What might even be more profound is the level of care God is inferring in His comments to Jonah. Even though the Ninevites were obviously not following Him until this moment, and apparently would not follow Him for long, His comments imply a level of investment. He chides Jonah for being shaken by the loss of a plant, but these 120,000 men, women, and children were known to God.

Today, as you scroll through Facebook and see that person that hurt you why not offer a prayer for them when you’re tempted by that flash of anger? When someone crosses your path that is hard to get along with, take a moment to think about all that God has invested in that person, maybe for this very moment.