Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | February 2, 2018

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion”

Today’s devotion comes from Jonah chapter 4.

“But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry.  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.  Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.”  The LORD said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?

Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it.  There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city.  So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort.  And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant.  But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered.  When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life.”

Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?”  And he said, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death.”  Then the LORD said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight.  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 chapter 4.

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As inferred by God by His question “Do you have good reason to be angry?”, Jonah did not have good reason to be angry.  God had delivered Jonah from the depth of the sea and the stomach of the great fish, and Jonah was not under any threat of calamity as was Ninevah.  Jonah knew that God was compassionate and declared:  “You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.”  If God was compassionate on Jonah, then it was not objectionable by Jonah that God would also be compassionate on Ninevah.

Moreover, as pointed out by God, if Jonah had compassion on the plant for which he did not work and which was only a plant which life span is often very short, then it was reasonable for God to have compassion on Ninevah which not only had 120,000 people as well as many animals which were much more valuable than one plant.

But, the focus of this devotion is that God states that there is an additional reason for His compassion, these 120,000 people “do not know the difference between their right and left hand”.  God knew that they were dead in sin and did not expect much (anything) from them.

Consider that generally it is easier to be compassionate on people when we do not expect much from them.  We are more patient and more compassionate with children and the elderly than we are with adults in the prime of their life.

A good understanding of man’s “Total Depravity” leads us to compassion for others.

Other doctrine believes that man is basically good and wise and that man has free-will and is able to fend for himself.  And accordingly, other doctrine is less patient and less compassionate when man sins.

But, Reformed Doctrine believes that man is dead in sin and totally dependent on God.  And accordingly, Reformed Doctrine is more patient and more compassionate when man sins and more inclined to forgive.

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;  bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone;  just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”  Colossians 3:12-13.


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