Tipping the Scales
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
“The world isn’t fair, Calvin.”
“I know Dad, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?”
- Bill Watterson, The Essential Calvin and Hobbes: A Calvin and Hobbes Treasury
If you haven’t recently read the book of Jonah, I would urge you to do so. It is an entirely strange account. Jonah, a prophet of God, is commanded to travel to Nineveh, a wicked and pagan city. He is to preach against it because of the people’s evil ways.
Jonah, however, is disobedient and sails in the opposite direction for Tarshish. After a crazy series of events involving a violent storm, being thrown overboard, and getting swallowed by a great fish, Jonah eventually finds himself in Nineveh. He delivers a message of warning from the Lord and finds a place east of the city to watch what will happen.
Upon hearing Jonah’s words, the people of Nineveh believe God, repent, put on sackcloth, and fast. God then relents from destroying the city. Oddly enough, Jonah becomes angry with this result. He tells God he knew this would happen because God is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love. Jonah would rather die than witness the salvation of so many.
As silly as Jonah’s attitude may seem, it’s not entirely difficult to understand his perspective. The Ninevites were a rebellious people and a threat to Israel. Jonah did not want them to be saved. He longed for them to be condemned and destroyed for their sins.
Similarly, we can be quick to judge. People have a tendency to tip the scales in favor of themselves. A comparison of works is often made… “I do this good deed” or “I’m not as bad as him”. Moreover, we try to limit God’s grace by extending it to some and withholding it from others, as Jonah did.
But this is not biblical. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Romans 3:21-24 states, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
We cannot categorize sin or suppress grace. We have all missed the mark and are in desperate need of salvation.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 ESV
- Christopher Glading, Director of Programs and Publicity