The believer’s self-life is composed of the habits, attitudes, and relationships he or she is unwilling to surrender. Keeping those things from the Lord gives us a sense of independence—highly prized in our current culture. However, by following the “self,” we interfere with God’s purpose. He wants every aspect of our lives to be submitted to His will.
Jonah mistook rebellion for freedom. The fourth chapter of his story paints a vivid picture of the prophet sweltering in the sun—and in the heat of his hatred. His blood boiled when God showed mercy to the Ninevites. “I have good reason to be angry, even to death,” he ranted (Jonah 4:9). God had used him to save more than 120,000 souls, but Jonah was angry because he desired their destruction.
Freedom is not the same as autonomy. Walking in full obedience to the Lord is the only true liberty. Jonah obeyed with his body but not with his heart. And his bitterness shows that stubbornly clinging to our self-life is a snare for the spirit. Unhealthy routines, like thick weeds in our paths, prevent us from moving forward. So God is determined to break us loose from any hindrance.
Jonah resisted the Lord’s every attempt to crack his pride. Believers have the right to choose self over submission, but the cost is high. We may steep in emotional turmoil like the prophet. Or God might deny us opportunities. Whatever the consequences, one thing is certain: Autonomy will cause us to miss the blessing of intimacy with the Lord—and nothing is worth that.
Bible in One Year: 2 Thessalonians 1-3