Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.Mark Twain
I remember when in my younger years that I broke one of our windows out of anger. The reason behind that anger, I cannot recall. Maybe it was because of a childhood game or a conflict. But because of that anger, I suffered a small laceration on my hand, a good scolding from my mother and a regret that until now I can remember.
Hate to Anger
Most common reasons people are angry is because they hate the person or thing that they are angry about. As the late Benjamin Franklin said, “Anger is never without reason, but seldom with a good one”. This was true for me, I hated something or someone (even though I cannot recall the specific) which caused me to act out on the window by smashing it.
How about you? Can you recall on the moments when you were angry. Do you feel love at those times or hate?
Danger in Anger
Anger is always dangerous. It can cause physical, emotional and mental harm not only to the subject of vexation but also to the angry person. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Anger is one letter short of danger”. Because of my irritability, I endured a physical wound, emotional hurt – mother’s scolding, and a mental distress which was my regret.
Did you experience any of these effects when you were angry?
Today’s devotional reading is from the Book of Jonah. Please, read other related devotional – Out of the Belly of Sheol, I cried.
History to Understand God’s Word
When dealing with Old Testament scriptures, I also find it helpful to know the history behind the Bible passages.
The setting of Jonah was under the reign of King Jeroboam II (793-753 BC) of the northern kingdom. Jonah was one of the many prophets of God to the 10 northern tribes of Israel. But his call to prophesy was not to the Israelites but to their pagan enemy, the people of Nineveh.
Nineveh (modern-day city in Iraq) was the capital of the Assyrian Empire. This was a city founded by Nimrod, great – grandson of Noah, and the people worshipped Dagon, the fish god.
Chapter 1: Running Away from Responsibilities
God commanded Jonah to prophesy to Nineveh (v. 2) and tell them to turn away from their evil ways. Instead of going east of Israel – location of Nineveh – Jonah went west to Tarshish (v. 3) (southern port city in Spain), disobeying God’s command.
Jonah ran away from his responsibility as a prophet, because he hated the people in whom God has sent him to prophesy. The act of Jonah almost caused him his life. They threw him out of the ship (v. 15) and nearly died (Ch. 2:2). We, too, face this challenge, to share the Gospel to the people who we dislike. And when we do not obey God’s command, they consider it an offense to Him (Romans 5:19).
Chapter 2: Repenting from Transgression
During his last moments, and in his distress, he remembered the Lord and called to him (v.7). God then saved him through appointing a big fish to swallow him (Ch. 1:17). Jonah said his prayer to the Lord in the fish’s belly (v.1). Acknowledging God’s sovereignty over his situation and Jonah in return made vows to God (v.9), which was to preach in Nineveh.
We are like Jonah in this chapter, we often remember to call to Jesus when we are suffering or distress. Also, we make vows that sometimes we forget to fulfil. But God is true to His words always (Joshua 21:45), and that is clear throughout the scriptures.
Chapter 3: Spreading God’s Message of Repentance
This chapter opened with God asking Jonah for the second time to go to Nineveh and send the message of repentance (v.1-2). And this time Jonah obeyed the voice of the Lord and travelled three days to Nineveh (v.3). Then Jonah went into the city and warned them about their destruction within 40 days if they will not turn away from their sinful deeds (v. 4).
And the people of Nineveh believed God (v. 5). As a result, they called out to Him for His mercy, fasted, and covered themselves in sack clothes (v. 4). All did this, from their king and noblemen to the least person in the city (v. 6-8).
The people of Nineveh took only once to hear God’s message, and they repented. In contrast to Israel’s stubbornness, who heard from many prophets but still did not heed God’s call of repentance.
Chapter 4: Do you do well to be Angry?
Because God relented on His judgement to Nineveh, for they have repented (Ch.3:10), Jonah became angry (v. 1). He knows God’s mercifulness that is why he hesitated to go to Nineveh.
But God showed how His compassion in more than we can understand. Hatred does not corrupt Him, unlike us. God is impartial to people who seek Him and who are genuinely repentant.
This is the time for your journaling. Reflect on these questions. Ask the Holy Spirit to test your faith and your walk with Christ.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? — 2 Corinthians 13:5 KJV
- Do you know your responsibilities as a Christian?
- How do you see repentance? Is it done once or a continuous attitude that a Christian should have?
- How often do you bring up Jesus’ Gospel to others?
- Are you quick to anger? If yes, what are you doing to change it?
Heavenly Father, who is merciful. We thank You for all the mercies You have shown us. Especially for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from our trespasses. And for the Holy Spirit in directing us on how to follow and obey Your commands.
Help us, Lord, to be slow in anger and to be compassionate to those who do not know You. Provide us opportunities to share the Gospel to others. Give us boldness of heart that fear and shame will not hinder us from your command of spreading Your word.
All these we pray in the saving name of Jesus Christ. Amen.