We see, however, that while Jonah found obedience in the belly of the fish, he was hardly poor in spirit. Obedience is a sign of spiritual life, but it is possible to have one and not the other. In the fish Jonah cried out to God, “What I have vowed I will make good” (Jonah 2:9). True to his promise, when the word of the Lord came a second time commanding him to go to Nineveh, he went.
But something was still not right. Jonah’s feelings toward the people of Nineveh was unchanged, and he resented God’s decision to redeem them. More than this, he sat on a hillside east of the city and asked God to take his life! That’s right. Jonah singlehandedly led an entire city to repentance and saved them from destruction and yet was so angry with God he wanted to die! He had a poor attitude, but not a poor spirit.
Yes, in the process of understanding God’s will we must be obedient servants, but God also wants us to do the right things for the right reasons. He wants us to understand His heart and act on His behalf. The rebel says, “Why do I need to obey?” The one who is poor in spirit says, “Show me why so I can obey you more.”