The thought-provoking catch phrase “You can be right, or you can be in relationship” challenges me greatly each time I hear it. I don’t think I’ve ever applied it to my relationship with God, though. Jonah wanted the Ninevites to think he, God’s messenger, was right in his predictions of impending judgment, more than he wanted the God of Israel to show them compassion in response to their repentance.
- When has being right meant more to you than experiencing God’s grace?
READ THE WORD: JONAH 4:1-5 (ESV)
1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
4 And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”
5 Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Jonah was angry about a lot of things. List as many of these things as you can.
- Read verse 2 again. How did Jonah begin his prayer? What was his attitude as he talked to God?
- Another way of translating verse 4 is, “What do you have to be angry about?” How would you answer the Lord if he asked you this question today?
- What is God saying to you about anger or needing/desiring to be proven right?
RESPOND TO GOD
To answer these questions honestly, we have to dig deeply into our personal value systems. Jonah had a reputation to protect. He was a prophet, and if what he said was going to happen did not happen, what then? Who would he be? What would people think of him? In our own way of doing life, we each hold certain values very, very closely. Being a Christ-follower requires a foundational shift from fighting and clinging to what is our idea of the “right” way, to surrender and letting go…of everything.
- Pray for a humble heart—one that can hear words of correction or challenge and respond with gratitude.
- Remind your weary soul that God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and one whom relents from disaster. Thank God for these truths.