I am a rule follower by nature. I see things as black and white, I'm a truth teller and often honest to a fault. While accuracy is certainly a desired quality, it can be a fault too. What you don't know, is I'm silently correcting your grammar, I edit your Facebook posts for punctuation in my head and don't even get me started on your use of homophones. Sadly, this does not just stop with grammar issues, I have a drive for things to be "fair", to right the wrongs and to seek justice.
That doesn't leave room for much grace.
Today I was reading the story of Jonah. The last chapter of this fascinating book of the Bible often gets overlooked. Every child who has attended Sunday school for any amount of time knows about the prophet who got swallowed by a great fish when he disobeys God to go tell the Ninevites to repent or God will destroy their city. He finally does repent, is spat out and goes to Nineveh to tell the Ninevites about God and they do repent. God's anger relents and the city is not destroyed.
The last chapter sees Jonah watching this scene and waiting for God's judgement to come. When God shows mercy Jonah is seriously angry. He's in a very hot place and seeks shelter under a large vine God has provided that has sprung up. The next day the plant suddenly dies when eaten by a worm and Jonah is again angry. This time about God letting the plant die. God asks him if he has a right to be angry about the vine, Jonah replies he's angry enough to die.
This next part is my favorite, because I see so much of myself in it. Jonah 4:10-11, "But the Lord said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"
The vine for me, being correct and factual and fair, is not what God says is important. Showing God's compassion to a lost and dying world, a world that needs to understand God loves them, and sent his son to save them is important. I think today I'll work on looking past the vines in my life and caring for people's hearts instead.
(P.S. I hope you find some grammatical errors in this passage, that would really make me laugh!)