"Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: and should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?" (Jonah 4:10,11).
In the book of Jonah, God had the last word, as indeed He always will. What a word it is! Jonah was "exceeding glad" (Jonah 4:6) for the gourd because it added to his own comfort, but utterly unconscious of the joy in Heaven over a whole city that had repented. Even more, he was exceedingly displeased and even very angry (Jonah 4:1) because Nineveh had been spared from destruction! Jonah was far more deeply concerned with the fate of a single plant than he was with perhaps a million or more never-dying souls who had just turned to the living and true God.
What a lesson for us today! How many of us are far more deeply concerned over our gardens and our clothes, our houses and our businesses, our cars and our gadgets, than we are with the millions of perishing—yet never-dying—souls all around us. How many of us are "exceeding glad" for something that adds a little more to our own comfort and ease and luxury, but we are utterly unconscious and without a care or a thought as to whether there is joy, exceeding joy, in Heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:10). Furthermore, like Jonah, we are "exceedingly displeased" and even "angry" if anything happens to disturb our comfort and upset the course of our day. The unsaved in their blindness may bow down to wood and stone, for all we care, provided the worms do not get into our gourds and the hot east wind does not blow upon us!
If we are honest, the little book of Jonah hits most of us very hard indeed, but what comfort it may bring to our wounded souls to remember that Jonah's God is our God. We have to confess that the same patience, grace, and mercy that followed Jonah from start to finish have also followed us from the start, and we are sure that they will continue with us to the end. May He deliver us from our disobedience and self-will, from our pouting and our anger! May He form and fashion us like unto Himself and give us a true estimate of the real value of gourds and souls, and make us vessels which are set apart and ready for the Master's use!
—Condensed from Lessons from Jonah by G.C. Willis