You know the story of Jonah, the man who ran from God and got swallowed by a fish. Jonah was told to take a message of God’s mercy and forgiveness to Israel’s enemy, a people known for their godlessness and cruelty. Jonah refused. Those people didn’t deserve God’s mercy. They deserved judgment.
And he was right.
But it’s not about what we deserve, rather it’s what God gives.
After the fish encounter, Jonah went to Nineveh and preached like he was supposed to. The response defies imagination. The entire city believed him and repented. At least a hundred thousand people, maybe as many as half a million according to some scholars. That kind of success is staggering.
But Jonah was angry. In chapter 4 he complains (whines) to God, “Didn’t I tell You this would happen? This is why I ran away in the first place! I knew You would be merciful!”
In the midst of the greatest revival in history, he resents God’s mercy.
Who is Nineveh? Who is undeserving of God’s mercy?
Bullies. Child molesters. Serial killers. Terrorists.
After an object lesson, God responds, “Jonah, you care more about your own comfort than these people. Your priorities are so messed up.”
Sometimes, we make the same mistake as Jonah, thinking we deserve, or we have somehow earned the mercy and grace of God, and before anyone else receives it, they must meet our criteria first.
That’s just not so.
Who needs to know about that sacrifice Jesus made? Who are you reluctant to share the gospel with? Who is Nineveh?