Love Rejoices With the Truth (2)
Scripture Reading — 1 Cor. 13:6; Jonah 3:1-4:4
“I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God…” — Jonah 4:2
When the Lord’s word came to Jonah the first time to go to Nineveh and preach against that great city because of its wickedness, “Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish” (Jonah 1:2).
Why? In those days Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, a brutal, militaristic pagan nation dead-set on world domination. Israel and many other nations feared and hated the Assyrians. As far as Jonah was concerned, God’s swift judgment on the Assyrians was what was urgently needed. Only that would relieve Israel’s fears and set off unrestrained rejoicing throughout the nation. But Jonah had a strong suspicion that God just might not bow to Israel’s burning desire, he is “a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” So, wanting no part of any compassion shown to the Ninevites, Jonah fled the scene.
Jonah was right about God. The Ninevites repented of their evil ways and prayed to God for mercy. True to his character, God “had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.” Unwilling to rejoice in this stunning transformation, Jonah asked the Lord to take away his life.
It’s easy to delight in whatever cuts down our enemies. It’s difficult, if not humanly impossible, to rejoice in their salvation. Only God’s love can move us to do the impossible.
Father, fill me with your love that I may rejoice with the truth that you don’t want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). In Jesus’ name. Amen.