Word for Today – Jonah 4:2

You Are a Gracious God

Jonah was not only wayward, but he had a bad attitude. Although he didn’t have the right spirit when proclaiming God’s message to the Ninevites, at least he was obedient. But, chapter four of Jonah opens up telling us that the prophet was displeased and angry:

“O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing” (Jonah 4:2 NRSV).

As Christians we are to be loving. We are to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Anything else is, well . . . unchristian. But how often, in the dark recesses of our mind, does a bad attitude creep in just like Jonah’s?

How often do Christians harbor ill will toward others? Honestly, I’ll bet we’ve all done that at some point. We rarely use the same standard when comparing what God does for us and what he does for others.

In Matthew 20:1-15, Jesus tells a parable about a landowner who hires workers at various times of the day (early morning, noon, and three o’clock). Everything is fine until, at the end of the day, the boss pays all the laborers the same wages. The early-morning hires were “displeased and angry” when those hired later received the same compensation for less work.

The early-morning hires lost sight of the arrangement they made with the landowner; they agreed to their wages, and it really wasn’t any of their business what the boss paid others. It was the same thing with Jonah; it’s the same with you and me. God gives all of us grace and mercy, and it isn’t our place to judge how God dispenses it. God spoke directly to Jonah about his attitude:

“Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4:4).

These words are as applicable today as they were when Jonah heard them. Is it right for us to be angry when God showers his grace and mercy on someone we think is undeserving? Does the root of bitterness sprout in our hearts when God’s favor rests on someone other than us?

Although we have a hard time applying the same standard to ourselves and others, we need to remember that we are just as undeserving as the next guy. We are all blessed that God is gracious and merciful.

Word for Today: Next time you talk to God be sure to tell him, “You are a gracious God.”

1. Think of time, past or present, when you’ve been displeased or angry because God showed mercy to someone you thought did not deserve it.

2. Is there a time you received God’s grace and mercy when others may have thought you didn’t deserve it?

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