You have had pity on the plant

Then God said to Jonah…”You have had pity on the plant…”  (Jonah 4:10).

I encourage you today to read Jonah 4 today. Jonah was angry, really angry. He was angry because he knew God was gracious and merciful. God showed mercy on the city of Nineveh and forgave them because they repented at the preaching of Jonah. Even though Jonah preached to them, he really didn’t care about the salvation of the souls of Nineveh. He preached in anticipation that this effort would fail. Nineveh would reject God and God would toast them.

Read the last verse of chapter 3 and the first verse of chapter 4. God relented because Nineveh repented and Jonah vented. Jonah went outside of the city in verse 4 and waited in eager anticipation of God raining down judgment and destruction upon Nineveh (Jonah 4:5).

Notice the mercy that God had upon Jonah, while at the same time teaching a critical lesson. God prepared a plant to grow up and shade Jonah “to deliver him from his misery” (Jonah 4:6). Jonah was very grateful. Next, God sent a worm to destroy the plant. Then God brings a “vehement east wind” and the sun “beat on Jonah’s head” (Jonah 4:8).

All Jonah wants to do now is die. Now Jonah is really ticked off. This provides one of those “teachable moments.”

Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!” 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 4:9-11).

You have had pity on the plant

This being Wednesday, our focus is on parenting. I want to take this concept and apply it to parenting. As a Father, God was parenting Jonah. There are some valuable lessons to learn here in parenting.

Our children sometimes will care more about the plant, which creates teachable moments. They will get really upset about something, like a sibling borrowed a shirt without asking. Justice must be administered! It is times like that that we can help direct them to areas where they really should focus their passion. We are there to help them gain some “perspective.” Jonah cared more for a stupid plant than he did for 120,000 souls. Andy Harrison wrote an article recently about “Misplaced Compassion,” and today’s article connects well with it.

We must show mercy to our kids at those times, like God showed Jonah. I mentioned in Monday’s article about a sermon that Mike Sullivan preached recently. He made a point that Jesus was not self-righteous about the self-righteous. Jesus ate with the Pharisees, too. He loved them and wanted desperately for them to understand His grace and mercy. As we see the hypocrisy and double-standard in our kids, we must remember God and Jonah. God kept teaching Jonah and showing mercy to Jonah, too.

Apollos watered

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Apollos was God’s watering can. I like that. When Apollos followed Paul in Corinth, the Bible records that he “greatly helped those who believed through grace, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 18:28).

Our plants and young trees right now are struggling because we really need some rain. It is a visual reminder everyday of Paul’s words. Merely planting a tree or a tomato plant is not enough…you have to water it. It is really amazing to watch what happens to a plant when it gets some much needed water. That plant springs back, revives and grows.

I am thankful for God’s watering cans…

  • By your words of encouragement, you can greatly help other believers make it through this day (Hebrews 3:13). A simple text message, or a card in the mail, or sitting down for coffee, can make an eternal difference!
  • When you make a strong stand for following God, you are pouring refreshing live-giving water on other Christians. Your example of commitment and sacrifice stirs up others to do the same (Philippians 1:14).
  • Taking time to encourage those young Christian men or women is watering on what others have planted in their hearts. I’m grateful to God for the watering cans in the kingdom who are helping to encourage my sons and daughters. I know of many watering cans who helped me grow in my faith. Even the apostle Paul talked often about those brethren who “refreshed” his spirit (1 Corinthians 16:18; 2 Timothy 1:16).

For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother (Philemon 7).