But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?” Jonah 4:10-11
Jonah had pity on a plant that was temporary that he had not invested any time to grow it, but he didn’t have pity on the Assyrians. At the same time, Jonah was unhappy with the fact that God had pity on one hundred and twenty thousand Assyrians.
Jonah had his own feelings about the Assyrians because of evil and cruel they were. He probably would not have been too upset if God pronounced a judgement on them and caused them to suffer. However, God saw them in their lost state and was looking for them to repent.
Sadly, we may not be that much different from Jonah. We love our pets, cars, houses, and all kinds of others things, but we may not have the same level of compassion and care for some people. It hurts when we lose a pet, but we may not have much sympathy for a lost person.
Furthermore, the Lord told Jonah that the Assyrians did not know their right from the left. These people were lost and confused about moral matters, and the result was that other nations including Israelites would be subject to their cruelty. For Jonah to leave them alone and to distance himself from them did not certainly help their condition nor their behavior. The Assyrians needed help to be awakened to the reality of the existence of God and His displeasure with their way of life.
We also tend to distance ourselves from mean people. We prefer not to talk to them or associate with them. But who would reach them if we don’t!? If we were to wait for our feelings to catch up with the call of God to reach the lost, the majority of people may not be reached by Christians.
Jonah’s goals and God’s goals were not aligned, so Jonah tried to run away from God’s assignment. I wonder how many of us run away from God’s assignment because we don’t like certain people based on how they have treated us or treated others!?
Do you have compassion on the lost? Do you have compassion for those you don’t like? If we are going to be effective in evangelism, we need to put our personal feelings about a person or group of people aside and be willing to hear God’s heart for them.