“Man! That guy is evil!”
My father and I were watching a news program on television. He shook his head as we both viewed the horrors of a hideous massacre, inflicted by a despotic leader of a foreign militia group. “He’s like Adolf Hitler!”
“Who?” I was about eight years old and I looked to my father with confusion.
“Adolf Hitler! Probably the most evil man who ever lived.” Realizing he was given a teachable moment, he turned to me and said, “We just bought that encyclopedia for you. Go look him up and tell me about him when you have finished.”
After researching, I understood. Yes. Evil. I could not find anything redeeming about his life. It was my introduction to the depths of depravity to where mankind may descend. I despised him and others like him. Even after I became a Christian, I realized that some people are very difficult to love.
And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
Jonah 4:10-11 (ESV)
Jonah was the prophet God chose to preach repentance to the city of Nineveh. His reluctance to preach this message is well known as he disobeyed God and boarded a ship headed in the opposite direction. God intervened and commanded a great fish to swallow him alive. Only within the bowels of the fish, did Jonah repent of his own sins and cry out to God for forgiveness. After preaching to the Ninevites, the entire city repented of their sins. It may have been one of the greatest revivals in the history of the world! Did Jonah rejoice? One would think that after such an astounding demonstration of God’s grace and mercy, Jonah would be joyously willing to obey God. Not quite. He was bitter. He did not want God to spare the Ninevites. God had just blessed Jonah with a similar mercy when he repented, but what was good enough for him was not good enough for the Ninevites.
Many of us can relate to this episode, I know I can. Why? Because I am a sinner, and I am difficult to love. I may not willingly extend love to a person who has hurt me or inflicted pain upon those whom I love. Am I better than God thinking that I do not have to love someone that I or others despise? This only reveals the depravity of my heart. I am not appreciative for what Jesus did for me. He who is forgiven little, loves little. Only a gracious and merciful God can extend His forgiveness to me and all of humanity by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to bear the punishment for our rebellious and sinful natures. God is changing my heart, tearing through my ugly veils of prejudice. Even if the rest of the world would agree with me, that Hitler and other like tyrants are evil and not deserving of our compassion, God still loves them and desires that none should perish but all to confess their sins and gain eternal life and salvation.
Some people are difficult to love.
Thanks be to God that He loved me even when I turned my back on Him and others. He loves me even when I am at my most unlovable.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.