Have you ever wanted to see someone get what they deserve? Maybe your sister ruined your art project on purpose. Or maybe a kid in your class at school told a big fat lie about your best friend. When people around us do bad things, we usually want to see them punished for it.
But God isn't like that. God wants to forgive people. He wants to show them mercy. He doesn't like the bad things people do anymore than we do. But he loves the people who do them.
That's why he called Jonah to go to Nineveh. He wanted the people there to understand how doing the wrong things was destroying them. He wanted Jonah to tell them how badly they were messing up so that he could show them mercy and stop them from destroying themselves.
Jonah knew that was God's plan. That's why he ran away when God first called him to go to Nineveh. And that's why Jonah got angry when God forgave the people there.
"Didn't I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, LORD! I'd rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen." Jonah 4:2-3
Jonah was mad. He knew that these people had done terrible things and deserved to be punished. And God was letting them off the hook! But Jonah had forgotten that God did the same thing for him...
Jonah did a terrible thing, too. Jonah ran away from God. But God sent that big fish to show him mercy. Then, he sent Jonah to show mercy to the people of Nineveh. And finally, he sent Jesus to show mercy to everyone in the world.
Because we all need his mercy.
Remember that the next time you want to see someone get what they deserve. Remember it the next time you mess us, too. Remember how God loves to show mercy. Ask him to show it to you and to help you show it to others.
Read Matthew 18:21-35
This passage includes a story Jesus told about a man who was forgiven much but who refused to forgive others. Why does Jesus want us to forgive and show mercy?
Create a piece of word art based on the word MERCY. You can write MERCY in fancy letters and add images and decorations that help you remember what this word means and how God has shown it to you and to others.
Take time this week to think about how God is "slow to get angry" and "filled with unfailing love." You can do this anytime, anywhere!