God Is Not Punishing You
From Jonah: A 7-Day Devotional
At an outdoor concert, you meet some people relaxing on a grassy bank. After mingling awhile, you tell them about Jesus, and several repent and turn to God. You are thrilled and ready to celebrate.
During later contacts with these new friends, you learn that one of them had directed a sex trafficking operation. Another killed five children while driving intoxicated. Yet another served foreign agents who persecute and kill Christ followers abroad. Would you be angry that people who committed such horrible acts get to start fresh, without condemnation?
The Bible describes Jonah reacting angrily about God’s forgiveness for the atrocious sins of others. The Assyrians were the bully nation for decades, mercilessly oppressing and murdering thousands of Jonah’s people. Jonah basically says to God, “I ignore You once and I land inside a whale, but these people defy You for years, and You just forgive them? Just kill me now, because I can’t live with this!” (Jonah 3:1-3 paraphrase).
Jonah fumes, but God reveals His greatest truth: there is no sin too great for God to forgive, no crime too awful for God to forget, no life too dirty for God to make new.
This forgiveness baffles us, because we don’t freely extend mercy and love as God does. We forget we are equally “dirty” without Christ (Romans 3:10), and that God expends equal forgiveness to cleanse each person. God is gracious, benevolent and compassionate; He doesn't desire punishment for sin — He desires repentance from it. In this grace we rejoice!
- How does God use Jonah to demonstrate that He really does “forgive and forget”?
- Is your next step to experience God’s forgiveness through a relationship with Jesus?
- Is your next step to exchange anger for joy? God will help you transform these feelings.