He prayed to the LORD and said, "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(NASB)
Surely we have a gracious and compassionate God Who is loving and merciful, patient and kind. Our God of grace is willing to extend His arms of love and forgiveness to all Who will trust in Jesus, for He is not willing that any should be condemned but that all come to a saving knowledge of the Lord.
This verse sums up God's gracious character, but it was uttered by the reluctant prophet Jonah whom God sent to preach the gospel of repentance to the pagan people of the wicked city of Nineveh. Jonah held these unsaved Gentiles in utter contempt, and fled from the Lord rather than preach the good news of His saving grace, in case they did repent and were saved!
Jonah fled from his duty, but was stopped in His tracks and helped on his way by a great fish, specially prepared by God. Jonah eventually obeyed and preached repentance to this huge hotbed of sinners, who all repented and became a vast city of people that were saved by grace through faith.
However, instead of rejoicing over their salvation, Jonah accused God of being too merciful! He said, "LORD, isn't this what I said would happen when I was still in my own country? That's why I tried to run to Tarshish in the first place. I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, patient, and always ready to forgive and to reconsider your threats of destruction."
What a shocking attitude of a child of God. There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repents, but Jonah complained because God extended His grace to people he considered were unworthy to receive God's forgiveness.
We are the children of our gracious Heavenly Father, and we are called to be God's witnesses to the unsaved in a dying world - for God is merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and longs that all men are saved.
We should reflect Christ's tender heart towards those that are dead in trespasses and sins, and be willing vessels in the hand of the Potter. Let us in His strength, keep our eyes fixed on Jesus so that we become a true reflection of His grace and compassion, His patience and love.
Loving Father, thank You that You are indeed full of compassion and mercy, for You stooped down to save me when I was dead in my sins and brought me into Your family. May my life be a true reflection of Your gracious character. In Jesus' name, AMEN.
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