July 07, 2015

God and Jonah: Radiate Compassion

Jonah 4

“I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love...”

—  Jonah 4:2

Jonah was not the best mentee. He fled from doing the job God called him to do and was defiant to the point of death, being thrown in the sea to die. He is the poster child for strong-willed defiance against God. The Lord could have abandoned Jonah to his rebellion, but our long-suffering God radiates compassion.

God teaches Jonah about his loving, compassionate nature again and again. He forgives Jonah his defiance and gives him another chance to obey.

Much to Jonah’s dismay, God also compassionately forgives Nineveh when they repent. Jonah sulks like a stubborn child, still hoping that God will destroy the city. Jonah likes God’s compassion toward him, but he prefers that other sinners receive God’s punishment rather than his grace.

God again shows compassion by giving Jonah an object lesson in the form of a little vine. When the vine withers, Jonah throws a tantrum, but God steps into the teachable moment. If Jonah is concerned about a little plant, shouldn’t God be concerned about the many people he has made? Our God is a compassionate mentor who patiently teaches, persisting with us even in our defiance.

Is there a defiant person in your life who needs some compassion?

Lord, thank you for being our compassionate mentor who forgives our sins and restores us to fellowship. Help us to extend your compassion to others as you have done for us in Christ. Amen.

About the author — Steven and Deb Koster

Steven and Deb Koster have a passion for marriages, families, and spiritual growth in the home. Both are ordained ministers in the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Steven formerly served as editor of Today and director of ReFrame's English-language outreach. Deb leads Family Fire, ReFrame’s family ministry at FamilyFire.com and on Facebook. The Kosters have three children.

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