Here’s the scene, Jonah (a prophet) was called by God to go to Nineveh and prophesy that in 40 days Nineveh would be overthrown. Jonah doesn’t want to go because he thinks God will relent and not do it to them. So instead of obeying, Jonah flees, but God gets his attention (the big fish) and finally Jonah obeys and goes to Nineveh.
He prophesies. The people repent. God relents. Jonah is mad! So mad he tells God just to kill him — basically throwing a temper-tantrum. Then God asks Jonah a question:
“Is it right for you to be angry about this?” (Jonah 4:4 NLT 97)
First thought I have when I read this is what an amazing father God is. He doesn’t TELL Jonah, “hey bub, quit your whining you have no right to be upset!” Which He had every right to do. Instead He wants Jonah to see it for himself. Second thought I have is if God ever asks you a question like this, quickly figure out you’re in the wrong, repent, and get right with God! Third thing I notice is Jonah doesn’t even answer! Instead, he goes and throws himself a pity party.
Let’s ponder for a moment WHY Jonah is upset. People he didn’t like didn’t get wiped out? Yep. He looks like a false prophet because what he said didn’t happen? Yep. In short, he didn’t get HIS way.
Brief side note. Recently I watched a BBC flick (which I’m NOT recommending) called “He Knew He Was Right”. In essence the story that unfolds is that a man (happily married) becomes insanely jealous of his completely innocent wife. Over 4 hours you watch his insistence that he’s right (which, by the way, he was not) literally destroy his marriage and kill him. It was a sad tale, but demonstrated an interesting principle — sometimes when we “know” we’re right, we’re not.
Back to Jonah. He very likely felt “right” in his anger (as demonstrated a few verses later). But, that doesn’t make him right.
Are there areas where you feel justified in a negative response? Almost across the board the word negates the possibility that a negative response is truly justified. We’re to turn the other cheek, do all things without complaining and arguing, hope all things, keep no record of wrongs, etc, etc. And yet too often we make excuses for ourselves. Trying to justify our behavior.
I’ll tattle on myself here a little. 🙂 Recently, I had several incidents where I became frustrated by someone (actually a couple someones). I never responded inappropriately to the individuals, but vented a bit to my hubby about the grievances that caused my frustration.
Even in the moment, I felt God checking me — encouraging me that as great as it was to respond appropriately to the other person, my heart response was equally important. I’ll be honest, like Jonah, I didn’t want to hear it. After all I wasn’t doing anything “wrong” to the other person. What did it matter if I vented a little to my husband?
Then yesterday, God had someone send me Ephesians 6:5. The person sending it wasn’t really sure what God was trying to say to me, she just knew it’s what He’d said. She also commented on verses 6-7. Here’s 5-7 from the Message:
Servants, respectfully obey your earthly masters but always with an eye to obeying the real master, Christ. Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God.
As of tomorrow, I’ve officially been unemployed for 2 years. At the moment Christ IS my master in every sense. So I knew He was referring to Himself here. But I knew He was reminding that it didn’t matter if the other person ever saw my frustration, HE saw it. And it showed an ugliness of heart that He wanted me to work on… not justify.
Like Jonah, even when cornered with the truth I struggled against it a bit, but ultimately I had to realize that I KNEW what He was saying to me and had to address it.
Let me challenge you, what areas are you feeling “right” or justified that God’s been trying to get your attention on? Is it perhaps time to suck it up and address those shortcomings?
Lord, I ask that You give us eyes to see areas You are trying to correct us in but we’re turning away because we feel right/justified. Lord help us to not just see these areas, but to take action to correct them. Thank You that we can rejoice when You chasten us because it’s a reminder we are Your children and You love us. Thank You for Your patience and mercy. Help us be more like You!