Abandoning the Self-Life
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 people a sense of independence, which is highly prized in our current culture. However, by following “self,” we interfere with God’s purpose. He wants every aspect of our life 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 (v. 9). God had used him to save more than 120,000 souls, but he was angry because he desired their destruction.
Freedom is not the same as autonomy. There is only one true liberty: walking in full obedience to the Lord. 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 path, prevent us from moving forward. So God is determined to break us loose from any hindrance.
Sadly, Jonah resisted the Lord’s every attempt to crack his pride. Believers have the right to choose self over submission, but the cost of doing so is high. We may steep in emotional turmoil like the prophet. Or God might deny us ministry opportunities. Whatever the consequences, one thing is certain: autonomy will cause us to miss the blessing of intimacy with the Lord–and nothing we value is worth that.