The Way of the Warrior Week 24 - The Warrior's Journey®

The Way of the Warrior Week 24

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“But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry,” (Jonah 4:1).  Jonah was fuming because the Ninevites came to faith in the Lord.  This is not a reasonable response to something so glorious in the mind of God.  Anger is short-circuiting joy in Jonah’s life.

Hundreds of years before Jonah, David wrote: “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil,” (Ps. 37:8).  Later, Christ noted that sinful anger is on par with murder (Matt. 5:21, 22).  Jonah was impacted by three days of danger, and his emotional health was frazzled.  Anger emerges in his behavior.

Trauma is so dynamic, that often it can’t be put into context with natural living. It has a radical impact, making the victim internalize the consequences. This is in contrast to contentment, which begins in the mind and works its blessings out in attitudes and behaviors.  Trauma goes outside-in, contentment goes inside-out. The Lord works inside-out. Contentment is hard work.

Biblical thinking points out two kinds of anger.  First, there is righteous anger for holy reasons.  One has indignation when God’s will, reputation, or honor are disgraced.  In fact, God is indignant, every day: “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.” (Ps. 7:11).  Paul commands: “Be angry and do not sin” (Eph. 4:26).  Righteous anger does not impale our emotional health, it dissipates moral outrage.  Jonah does not have righteous anger.

Then there is unrighteous anger.  This includes behaviors like: yelling, slamming things, cursing, verbal attacks, physical assault.  Then there are more subtle things like: detachment, moodiness, frustration, irritability, disgust, glaring, and huffing/snorting. Sinful anger is destructive. “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,” (Gal. 5:19, 20). The heart of the problem, is a problem of the heart.

The Lord does not quote Psalm 37:8 to Jonah.  We noted it, that it had been around hundreds of years before him. That’s odd.  Jonah has a strong handle on scripture, noting many spiritual truths (Jonah 2; 4:2), but anger supersedes head knowledge.  Emotional angst trumps data. We all know this.

Anger is a learned response and can become habitual. “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life,” (Prov. 4:23).  Anger controls you, rather than you controlling anger.  Solomon notes that you ‘keep’ your heart, meaning that you stand guard over your heart.  Anger is impulsive, the opposite of control.

The first mention of anger in the Bible: “but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell,” (Gen. 4:5).  The first anger was about spiritual issues. Cain wanted to change God’s way of worship.  Rather than speaking out, he buried his emotions. The Lord immediately acts with wisdom: “The LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?'” (4:6). The Lord put his finger on Cain’s issue and said: “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (4:7). The Lord tells Cain he must rule over his heart, as Solomon noted.  However, Cain, like Jonah, did not identify his feelings, he was full of rage, then killed his brother Abel (4:8).  It was brutal. It was not a fight gone out of control, it was an intentional slaughtering of his brother.

Jonah 4 was a counseling session.  The Lord started drilling down into Jonah’s attitude, not his behavior.  One cannot change behavior without modifying their frame of mind. But the Lord isn’t into pretending, so he goes to the core issue of behavior – one’s mindset.

The Lord asks Jonah: “Do you do well to be angry?” (Jonah 4:4).  God does not tell Jonah to change his behavior, he’s moving Jonah to introspection. If Jonah becomes aware of his own attitudes, then Jonah can change his conduct — with God’s help.  Altering external behaviors, without changing to godly thinking, will result in frustration.

Jonah refuses to answer the Lord’s probing question: “Do you do well to be angry?”  Jonah’s anger gets expressed in his body language: “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” (4:5). Failure to verbally respond is a sign that there’s an  attitude problem. Silence is dismissive and rude, which conveys lack of concern or respect for another.  This probably is not a good approach with the most gloriously good person in the entire universe. The silent treatment won’t work with the Lord.

Jonah 4 is more about the character and nature of Go, than about Jonah.  The Lord goes immediately to work for his beleaguered prophet. When Jonah dismisses God’s question, the Lord begins a thoughtful comforting work for him: “Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant.” (4:6).

Can you believe the goodness of God?  Jonah huffily walks away, and the Lord shows kindness to him.  The sovereignty of God is not just overwhelming power that shapes you. It includes goodness and blessings, thoughtfulness and carefulness for you.  The Lord is on a mission to transform us into mature and godly persons of character. He’ll take a peevish Jonah, and reconfigure his outlook and behaviors.

God uses tools to help incorporate change.  So far with Jonah, the Lord used a great wind (1:4); then a great fish (1:17); then he’ll use smaller things, like a plant (4:6), then a worm (4:7), then a scorching east wind (4:7).  He’s got a huge assortment of tools, and will use various means to capture our attention.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”(Eph. 2:10).

‘Workmanship’ is the Greek word ‘poiema’ which is translated ‘poem.’ The Lord fashions us, like a work of art, removing those things which do not enhance the finished treasure.  We are his work of art, just like Jonah. As our Creator, he’ll add, or take things away that do not represent him. Get ready for his pen, brush or chisel.

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