Even though I have read the Book of Jonah many times, I am still bothered by the way it ends. I mean, you would think that Jonah would have learned something from his experience in the belly of the fish; yet here he is angry at God! First he is angry because God relented when the people repented and Nineveh is NOT destroyed. Then he is angry because a plant that was giving him shade IS destroyed. How proud and selfish can one man be? His pride is wounded because the judgment that HE decreed over Nineveh did not happen --- he thinks it makes him look bad. And his selfishness is apparent because obviously his level of concern for the plant is directly related to his own degree of personal comfort. As a result, he has compassion for the plant, but none for the people of Nineveh. Looks like misplaced priorities to me! Sounds kind of like the radical environmentalists who want to preserve all species of plant life, but who are also pro-abortion, doesn’t it?
But lest we too quickly judge others, let us also look to ourselves; or maybe I should just look to myself. I hate to admit it, but there have been too many times when I, also, have allowed pride and selfishness to cause me to be more concerned for myself than for others. This is just the opposite of what Rom.12:10 (NIV) exhorts us to do when it says, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” We can only effectively do that as we learn to die to “self” and begin to take on more of the character of Jesus. The Gospels tell us several times that He was moved by compassion. Compassion is a fruit of humility and selflessness. May we become more compassionate towards others as we lay aside our pride and selfishness!
O.K., back to Jonah. In my opinion, he must have learned something from the rebuke that God gave him in chapter 4, because he is later referred to as a prophet; and the book about him did make the final cut to be included in the Bible. But what can WE learn from this final chapter?
First, we should never think that just because we have properly responded to God when He has revealed something to us in one area of our lives that needed changing does not mean that nothing else about us needs changing. We must do everything we can to keep our hearts tender before Him so that He can continue the process of changing us “from glory to glory” more and more into the image of Jesus (2Cor.3:18).
Second, even though we all still have areas in our lives that need to be dealt with, God continues to love us and to use us for His glory. In fact, He knew all along that we would not be perfect, yet He chose to use us anyway! That way, He gets the glory when something really good happens. That’s why it says in 2Cor.4:7 (NIV), “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
And finally, it’s all right if things don’t go the way we think they should. In fact, it’s O.K. if we even come out looking bad! As long as God brings about what He wants and He comes out looking good, it doesn’t really matter what happens to us. After all, it’s not about us, now is it? As John the Baptist said in Jn.3:30 (NIV), “He must become greater; I must become less.”
I hope you were blessed by something you read in “Thoughts on Jonah!”