It’s a MATTER of PERSPECTIVE: Then God said to Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?" And he said, "It is right for me to be angry, even to death!" But the Lord said, "You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left--and much livestock?" (Jonah 4:9-11)
The story of Jonah is truly a story of God's love for even the most unlovable, despicable people on the earth, and the message of Jonah rings out loud and clear: God cares for the heathen! God will spare no extreme to get His message to them, even when the messenger is deliberately disobedient. People are of more value than animals, and animals of more value than plants, but the Lord has a concern that extends to all of His creation.
The Lord’s compassion comes from His character (v. 2; Joel 2:13, 14). We may recall the compassion of Jesus as He looked upon the multitudes (Matt. 9:36; Mark 6:34; 8:2), and His statement in Matt. 10:29 that not a sparrow will fall to the ground apart from the will of the Father. Our care for objects of little significance should remind us of God’s great care for things of infinite worth.
If God wanted only to save the city of Nineveh, the book would have ended at chapter 3. But there was still more work to do, for God wanted to save His servant from himself. Jonah was an angry man (vv. 1, 2, 4, 9) who wanted to see Nineveh destroyed. Like the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son, he stayed outside and vented his bitterness (Luke 15:25–32).
The basic problem was that Jonah was not completely yielded to God. His mind knew God’s truth, but he did not do the will of God “from the heart” (Eph. 6:6). He obeyed only because he was afraid of what God might do to him. His was not a ministry of love!
In the similar manner, when we are angry with God, everything in life gets out of perspective, and we say and do selfish things. Things become more important than people, and comfort more important than ministry. But God is long-suffering and tenderly deals with us to bring us to obey His will.
It is essential in Christian service to be happy with the will of God, and we should be able to say without hesitation: “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart” (Psalms 40:8).