Animosity or compassion? Honestly, how do you feel about non-believers? Are you irritated by their ungodly behavior, or burdened for their salvation?
A reluctant preacher named Jonah found great displeasure in the repentance of an ungodly people: "Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity." (Jonah 4.2)
Fearing that God would relent in punishing these savage enemies of Israel, Jonah withdrew when called to declare the word of God to them. After some time for introspection in the belly of a great fish, he responded to his God-given call. But, to his extreme dissatisfaction, the people en masse repented.
Burning with "righteous indignation," Jonah vented his anger to God; to which God replied, "Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?" (Jonah 4.11)
God's response was an appeal for compassion. And it is an appeal to us as well. Should we not be moved with compassion for those who spiritually don't know their right hand from their left hand? Irritating and repulsive as their ways are, they are lost sinners in need of God's gracious salvation. May compassion move us to action.
©Steve Taylor, 2017 --Used by permission