Jonah was too proud to be taught, so God gives him a task that brings the issue to the surface and then he slowly skims away the dirt. God loves us too deeply to leave us without correction. I am grateful for brothers and sisters who love me enough to speak up when I do something stupid. They are a wonderful gift from God. Treasure the people in your life who love you enough to have tough conversations.
Dishing Out and Taking in Correction
Correction hurts. Even when we speak truthfully, we can go too far, cut too deep, and end up being harmful, not helpful. When we are careless, our words become weapons (Js 3:1-9). On the flip side, misunderstanding the motive when a friend corrects us can sever a decades-long friendship. Pride can stick its fingers in our ears and blocks any noise of rebuke. Giving and receiving correction is dangerous, but needed.
A wise person learns how to deliver and digest correction. Proverbs 9:8 says, “rebuke the wise, and he will love you,” and Proverbs 12:18 says, “the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Watching God correct Jonah is one place to see the wisdom of these proverbs in action.
Watching God Correct
As God corrects Jonah, he uses different tactics. He does not always bring a belt. He uses a variety of strategies. When you expect God to send a different, more obedient prophet, instead, he doubles down on Jonah (Jonah 3:1-4). When you assume God will send another storm, he sits for a conversation (4:1-11). God shows skill and sensitivity with Jonah. God humbles him when he is proud (1-2), exhorts him when he wavers (3:1-4), gently exposes his idols (4:5-11), teaches him when he doubts (4:10-11), and when Jonah despairs God carries him forward (4:9).
His timing, his tone, and his motive are always perfect. His words are a scalpel in the hand of the perfect surgeon. God never cuts in the wrong place or cuts too deep. Every place he cuts, he heals.