I think that one of these days, Chloe and Cole are going to grow up and seek careers in law enforcement. Why do I think this? Because they demonstrate a heightened sense of justice? Because of their desire to see wrongs righted?
No. It's because they keep tattling on each other and wanting me to enforce the "laws" around the house.
All day long I hear constant screams, constant whining, that constant singsong voice as they tell me things like, "Dadd-yyyy, Cole is playing with my to-ooooooy!" Or, "Dadd-yyyy, Chloe's in my ro-oooooom!" As if they think making a one-syllable word like "toy" or "room" will reveal to me the seriousness of the infraction if they can draw it out to three syllables.
One day after leveling an accusation against her brother, I asked Chloe, "What do you want me to do about it?"
Without missing a beat her answer was, "Spank him."
So Chloe's — and Cole's — desire was not just for me to make the other behave. Their larger desire was for me to come down like a harsh judge, to mete out punishment upon the one who, in their opinion, was the wrongdoer.
Kind of like Jonah. Called by God as a prophet, he was told to go and preach against the wickedness of the Ninevite people (Jonah 1:2). So what does Jonah do? He heads in the opposite direction (Jonah 1:3).
Through a series of events, God gets Jonah's attention and Jonah ultimately obeys God and goes to Nineveh (being in the belly of a great fish for three days and three nights will do that to you, I guess).
But there's something interesting in Jonah's actions. Even though the people of Nineveh repented (Jonah 3:5-9), Jonah still expected — wanted — God to judge them. He even set up camp outside the city so he'd have a front row seat from where he could watch Nineveh's destruction (Jonah 4:5).
The problem was, Jonah's heart wasn't in the right place. He didn't want to see the Ninevites come to repentance as God did. Instead, he wanted the Ninevites to suffer the wrath of God.
How do you respond to people who have wronged you? How do you respond to people who are living in rebellion against God? Are you willing to forgive them as God is? Or do you want to see them "get theirs" as Jonah did?
I wonder: when we want God to punish another for a real or perceived wrongdoing, if that doesn't say more about us than it does about them?
Parrish Myers is a local pastor whose column appears biweekly on Sundays.