Jonah's Self-Pity

Jonah's self-pity so warped his moral sense that he had more compassion for a plant than for a city full of people. Our zeal for the truth, justice, and service of God must always be undergirded by love for and submission to the person of God Himself.

Scripture:  Jonah 4:1-11

Sermon Notes:

  1. While many have longed to see such a revival, Jonah was displeased when Nineveh repented at his preaching.
  2. In this passage we see God’s gracious character in salvation and our human tendency toward mercilessness and self-pity.
  3. Jonah thought God’s actions were wrong.   He wanted wicked Nineveh to be destroyed.
  4. But God has a sovereign right to administer His justice and mercy to people and nations as He wills.
  5. God’s purpose is for the transformation of cities and nations by the Gospel (Exodus 34:6-7).
  6. Despite his watery ordeal, Jonah has not yet reconciled himself to the will of God.
  7. Zeal for God’s truth and work is not the same as love for God and submission to His purposes.
  8. We need to be changed, to conform to God’s purposes.
  9. God can and will use someone else if we do not change.
  10. Jeremiah similarly felt self-pity (Jer. 20:14-18).
  11. How we react under pressure (i.e., when we are exhausted physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally) indicates our true spiritual condition.
  12. Jonah was angry at the death of the plant graciously provided by God.
  13. God argues from the lesser to the greater:  if Jonah is sorry about the loss of a plant, how much more should he be concerned about a whole city of people.
  14. We ought not to be angry when God displays either His judgment or His mercy, because God has the right to do as He pleases with all people, cities and nations.
  15. Jonah ends with mercy and Nahum ends with judgment.
  16. God is consistent in His character; He is gracious and compassionate, to the point of sending His own Son to the cross for sinners like us.
  17. God uses Jonah’s self-pity to teach Jonah a lesson about his own heart.
  18. Jonah’s self-pity so warped his moral sense that he had more compassion for a plant than for a city full of people.
  19. God’s servants often face attacks from the Devil, and none of us are free from the temptation to self-pity.
  20. Elijah and Jeremiah were depressed with just cause; but Jonah was angry about the success of the Gospel.
  21. Many of the problems in our lives may be based on self-pity.  Self-pity is the root of flagrant public promotion of sin.
  22. It is God’s prerogative to have compassion on whom He will (Romans 9).
  23. Despite his failure, Jonah repented and wrote his story. 
  24. We must daily die to ourselves, abandoning the world of self-pity in our desire to do the will of God. 
  25. Self is the last enemy to die in the believer.

Application Questions

  1. What was Jonah’s attitude toward Nineveh? Toward God?
  2. What is God’s purpose for even wicked godless nations?
  3. Why was Jonah upset by God’s mercy toward Nineveh?
  4. Is our zeal for God’s truth, ministry, service and work undergirded by love for and submission to the person of God Himself?
  5. What would our attitude be if God granted repentance to wicked persecutors of His people today?
  6. In our self-centeredness are we more concerned about trifles than we are with the kingdom and will of God?