WORTHY OF GRACE
Key Scripture: Jonah 4:1-4
As a little kid, I can remember watching Veggie Tales’ Jonah and the Big Whale. I loved the story, but I thought Jonah was such a jerk. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t want God to forgive the people of Nineveh, regardless of what they had done.
As an adult though, I totally get it.
I once had the misfortune of being hurt by someone I loved and trusted. I felt betrayed by God because he’d led me to this person. I thought I was following His great plan for me and yet there I was, broken and bitter.
For a long time that bitterness ate away at my relationship with God. I was so angry at him for allowing me to be hurt so badly by someone I loved. Over time, however, I watched the person who hurt me grow and change. God had forgiven them and blessed them for their willingness to turn their back on their sin and face Him.
Surprisingly though, I was angry with God for his compassion and forgiveness. How could he forgive someone who’d hurt his daughter so much? How could this person, so drenched in sin, warrant the same forgiveness that I was granted, when I never committed a sin so destructive?
It took me years to finally realize that my anger with God and the bitterness I carried had clouded the grace I had for others. I’d turned into Jonah.
When Jonah realized that God was going to spare the Ninevites, he was so mad that he asked God to take his life away. And God replied, “Jonah, do you have any good reason to be angry?” —Jonah 4:2-4
The same God who had grace for the person who hurt me, had grace for my anger. He loved me anyway, just as he loved Jonah.
I try to carry that reality with me, whenever an old enemy from high school flaunts their million-dollar house, a bully gets my dream job, or I see someone who makes terrible decisions get rewarded. Whenever my human heart thinks that God’s grace is unjust, I picture Him asking me, “Brittany, do you have any good reason to be angry?”
The answer is generally no. Jealousy and envy are not good reasons for anything. I think it’s okay to be angry sometimes. I think it’s okay to wonder why life feels unfair. It’s okay to not be okay with our circumstances.
What isn’t okay is questioning why God loves his other children just as much as he loves you. What isn’t okay is being angry with God for forgiving someone who believes in him, just because you were hurt by them.
You see, sins that are loud, are worthy of the same forgiveness as sins that are quiet.
It’s a hard pill to swallow, without realizing it sometimes we think that we’re so much better than others. We like to think that our sins are small or justifiable. We can rationalize all of the ways we have a right to feel jealous or envious of others. It’s easy to say, well I wasn’t the one who did x, y and z, so I shouldn’t be implicated, or they shouldn’t be rewarded.
But here’s the crux, we aren’t privy to the same information that God is. We don’t get to see other people’s hearts. We don’t know their story like we think we do, and we don’t need to, because if we trust God with our mess, then we should trust God with theirs. We are all capable of redemption.
It’s not our business to judge whether or not someone is worthy of God’s grace.
God is just so gracious. He forgave Jonah when he was angry that the Ninevites were spared. He forgave me for my pride and bitterness. And he can forgive you too. He’s loving like that.
Steps of Faith: Father, help me to search within myself for undue pride or bitterness. Help me to love others like you love them. Help me to see all of the ways that you love your people through their mess and help me to see my own mess clearly. Thank you for being a good, good father. Thank you for the grace and compassion you had for the Ninevites, and that the same grace and compassion is granted to me.
Deeper Walk Scripture: Psalm 19:12-14, Ephesians 4:31, James 3:14