But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?” Jonah 4:4
Ever since Genesis 3, people have claimed the right to judge right from wrong. The post-modern thinkers among us (of any age) are particularly keen to think those thoughts. What they suppose to be ethical humility – an acceptance of others and their world view – has led them to the place where they are unwilling to establish any sense of right and wrong beyond themselves. May times you may have heard the phrase, “It is right for me.”
I have heard it in the workplace, including my current workplace at UMHB, in ways that might make many of us pause. I knew a sales manager who berated his sales people any time they failed to close an account. It was his understanding of how motivation was supposed to work. Was it right for him to abuse his employees? I guess it was right for him.
I have seen parents of college students refuse to provide them any assistance, even though the parents were more than economically capable. The parents said it was going to teach their child self-reliance, even if in the process they couldn’t afford the books required for the classes they were taking. Was it right for them to abandon their children this way? I guess it was right for them.
In our text for today, God asks Jonah if what he was doing is right? Bear in mind that God has certain advantages over us when it comes to knowing what is right. He doesn’t just know good. He is good. And He is the only one who is (Luke 18:19). It seems pretty clear given this premise that God is not asking for information here. As often seems to happen when God asks questions in Scripture, it is designed to reveal our wrong answers and His right ones.
Those of us who call ourselves Christian are obliged to agree with God in His determinations of right and wrong. Part of His having lordship is my giving up deciding what is right and wrong, and allowing myself to be instructed by the only One who always knows what is right for me.