But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?” Jonah 4:4 (NIV).
Today is Maundy Thursday. If you aren’t familiar with the events of today in Holy Week, today is the day when Jesus told His disciples to go talk to a man about a room. It’s the day Judas made his final arrangements to betray Jesus. Thursday is the day of the Last Supper, when Jesus taught humanity about Holy Communion, doing this in remembrance of Him. And it’s the day when Jesus led His disciples out to Gethsemene, to keep watch while He prayed: something they (naturally) ignored (by falling asleep). Today marks Jesus’ last full day on earth as a man. It’s a solemn day to remember.
Let me ask you this: knowing this now about the significance of today, is it right for you to be angry? Read the verse above and remember that it’s a question God asked of Jonah, after Jonah got bent out of shape that God didn’t go his way; that God didn’t destroy Ninevah as Jonah thought God should. Did Jonah have a right to be angry? Any reasonable person would have to conclude “no.”
But notice what God asked. God didn’t ask “do you have a right to be angry?” No, God asked, “IS IT RIGHT for you to be angry?” The subtle play on words changes the whole question, don’t you think? Instead of saying, “puny man, who are you to question God,” God uses the phrase to have a teachable moment with Jonah. “Hey Jonah, is what you’re thinking right? Is what you’re wanting Godly? Are you sure you really want to act this way?”
Flash forward to here and now. Whatever is bugging you today, is it right for you to let it bug you? Is it right to hold a grudge? Is it right to judge the other guy’s politics, or her words? Is it right to get frustrated at other people when you don’t get your way? We aren’t talking about any righteous reaction here: we’re talking about our petty, sinful anger.
What do you think any reasonable person would conclude about that?
We know what God would conclude. When He had every reason to knock Jonah down a few notches, God opted to show love, to give mercy, to teach and reason with His very good creation. Think about your own life. Has God shown you great mercy? Today especially, when remembering the last day in the human story of Jesus Christ, perhaps God is asking you as well.
For further reading: Jonah 4:5
Lord Jesus, it’s wrong when I get angry and dwell on it. It’s wrong of me to abuse righteous anger, to hold grudges, to hurt others. Have mercy on me, and teach me Your better ways.
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