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Pointers along the way #564

Personality clash with God
- Jacob Ninan

The prophet Jonah seems to have been the type of person who had a strong sense of justice, along with a tendency to be strict with people who did wrong. He probably felt that it was a weakness to show any leniency to people who deserved to be punished. If so, then we can understand why he didn't want to go to Nineveh and preach God's warning to them (Jon.1:2,3). He thought that after he preached and they repented, God would withdraw His punishment from them (4:2), and he would look like a fool for preaching judgment! Jonah didn't approve of God letting His mercy triumph over His judgment (Jas.2:13).

A man with a different personality, who wanted to be nice to everyone and didn't like to be strict or firm with the others, would have looked at God's mercy with great delight.

Do we like one aspect of God more than another because of our particular personality? There are those who like to follow laws strictly and find it difficult to bear with those who are careless with the law. There are those who major on grace and not judging. Each group feels right about their own stance and is always trying to correct the other group, calling each other legalists and those following hyper grace.

God has a most balanced personality. He is righteous, just and impartial and also loving, merciful, patient and compassionate. The thing is that He always acts according to what particular virtue is required at any time. Jesus knew when to show compassion to the people, and when to leave them and go off for prayer, when to heal the sick and when to preach, when to sleep and when to work overtime, when to comfort and when to rebuke. The mistake we make is to get polarised into one side, and act in one particular way whatever the situation is. If we are gracious we don't know how to be firm, and if we are strict we don't know how to be gracious or patient. Another problem is that we can justify ourselves by saying that our behaviour is godly -- theonly thing is we are manifesting the wrong aspect of godliness for the situation. When we need to be firm we show grace, and when we need to be gracious we show strictness.

Someone has pointed out that Satan also makes good use of this weakness. If we are the strict type of person, he reminds us of Bible verses that exhort us to be strict, and we don't realise that we are being pushed to an extreme position. If we are the soft type of person he reminds us about how forgiving and gracious we ought to be, etc. We may get fooled by these Bible verses into thinking that we are on the right track!

It is the Holy Spirit who can lead us into all truth. He can whisper in our ears and tell us when we are erring to the right side or the left (Is.30:21). We shouldn't walk blindly with "It's written," but we ought to listen to the "It's also written." God wants to make us mature people, well rounded in our development, and not have a warped development with some virtues growing more than others.


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