TODAY’S SIGNATURE VERSE ••• “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 4:10-11 ESV).
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• When I was a little girl, my favorite Sunday School Bible story was probably Jonah and the Whale. While the watered-down Sunday School version taught me the importance of obedience, it failed to tell me something important about Jonah—he was a real jerk.
The story of Jonah teaches us about obedience, yes… and it teaches us that we can’t run from God… but it also teaches us about our petulant attitudes in the face of God’s grace when we realize that He offers it to everyone—even people we don’t like or think deserve it.
I encourage you to read the book of Jonah yourself—it’s a short book that can be read in less than 10 minutes. But to sum up… After trying to run from God, Jonah got on a boat, a storm came, and since Jonah was the reason, he was thrown overboard and swallowed by a fish. Jonah prayed for three days. The fish spit out Jonah, he went to Nineveh as God instructed. Mission accomplished, right? Jonah could dust off his hands and get outta there! But wait! Obedience worked too well, and the Ninevehites actually listened! They repented! And God gave grace. And so Jonah pouted.
In Jonah 4, we learn that Jonah was angry and sat down, and God caused a plant to grow and give him shade, for which Jonah was thankful. However, God appointed a worm to destroy the plant by the next day, and Jonah, who clearly had some anger management issues, got angry over the absence of the plant.
And in a mic drop moment of biblical proportions, God 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 4:10-11).
And that’s where the chapter ends. It’s a cliffhanger, and I really wish I knew how Jonah responded after that.
The point is—Jonah believed in God, but he didn’t want God to show compassion to the “unworthy” Ninevehites. And as I said earlier, Jonah was a jerk. But, if I’m honest with myself, I can be too.
Let’s face it—there are people we don’t like… people who have hurt us or betrayed us… people we swear we’ll never forgive… and beyond the ones we know, there are people who are in power that we don’t like as well as people who are culturally so far removed from us, that we view as our enemies… People we fail to remember are created in the image of God too.
Now, I’m about to say something very, very unpopular. But I am praying you’ll hear me out… I’m going to list some names of some of the most hated and despised human beings in the world—some living, some not. But I guarantee you have an opinion about these people, and specifically — whether or not they deserve grace and forgiveness. No matter what your opinion is about these people, I want you to look at their names and think: Jesus died for them too.
Donald Trump. Nancy Pelosi. Jeffrey Epstein. Kim Jong-un. Hillary Clinton. Adolph Hitler. Saddam Hussein. Osama bin Laden. Barack Obama. Harvey Weinstein. Charles Manson.
Again, this is a list of some of the most hated people in the world. It isn’t based on whether I think or don’t think they believe(d) in Jesus. I have my doubts about most of these people, but God knows. And as we talked about yesterday, there is ONE WAY to heaven, and that is through Jesus Christ. So for those who are dead, the grace period ended when they drew their final breath because as it says in Hebrews 9:27, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” But for those who are still living, if they haven’t accepted Jesus — they still can.
And how would you feel if they did? How would you feel about them if they suddenly went on the news and did as it says in Romans 10:9 — confessed with their mouths and believed in their hearts… Would you celebrate for them, despite your personal feelings? Or would you begrudge such an announcement and feel that it’s undeserved. Would you speculate that it wasn’t genuine? Or mock them? Doubt them? We got a taste of this when Justin Bieber and Kanye West announced their salvation experiences — and I sincerely hope they were genuine. But I don’t follow either man to have a strong opinion about it. But God knows the authenticity of their hearts.
The truth is, Jesus offers/offered grace to anyone if they choose/chose to accept it. I know a lot of Christians on my Facebook page who absolutely despise our leaders. And that’s their constitutional right to disagree with them. I’m not starting a political debate. But what I’m saying is — God’s grace is big enough for a dying thief on a cross who had nothing left to offer. And it’s big enough for the people we dislike the most—if they were to surrender their hearts to Jesus… whether we think they deserve it or not.
Today, as you pray, thank God for His incredible grace. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you look at others, even those you don’t like, and remember that Jesus died for them too. Ask Him to fill your heart with the compassion of God, and praise Him that despite all your flaws, He has shown mercy, compassion, and grace to you!
SHARING ••• My Grace-Full Life is written by Denise Heidel. You are welcome to share anything I write, but please credit my writing and graphics accordingly. Visit www.MyGraceFullLife.com to read past blogs. Subscribe through my website to have My Grace-Full Life delivered to your email. You can unsubscribe at any time. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the ESV translation.