Scripture Reading — Jonah 3-4
“Should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
—Jonah 4:11 —
Of all the obstacles standing in the way of graceful Christian witness, one of the most stubborn is bitterness.
Jonah was bitter at the people of Nineveh, known for their brutal violence. The success of the Ninevites came at a terrible cost to his own people and other nations.
Jonah wanted vengeance on them instead of forgiveness for them, so he ran the other way when God told him to call the Ninevites to repentance. But God miraculously turned him around and sent him back to preach in Nineveh.
We might think that God’s mercy for Jonah would translate into mercy through him. But Jonah still harbored hope for revenge. Begrudgingly, he sulked in self-pity outside a city that God intended to save.
Do you harbor bitter feelings or resentment toward someone? Who in your life needs the Lord’s conviction and compassion? God is willing to forgive them in Christ. Are you?
You don’t have to excuse sin, forget it, or permit it to continue, but you can give up your desire for revenge.
If by the Holy Spirit we can exchange revenge for compassion, it will be far better than sulking in bitterness beside those whom God seeks to save.
God of mercy, thank you for forgiving me. Help me to share your grace with others. In Jesus, Amen.