Tag Archives: Job

Have you Considered Job

 

It seems only fitting that a post on Job should follow up the post on Moses’ sin, particularly as it relates to the effects that sin may have on an individual.  In that post, though we saw that Moses’ actions had the direct consequences of prohibition into the Promised Land, there was also mention of the danger in wrongly applying our circumstances to an individual sin.

An example of this wrong application may be seen on the part of the disciples in John 9 where our Lord and His disciples encounter a man who was blind from birth and they asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus replied that neither this man nor his parents sinned but that he was blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him.  This isn’t to imply that this man, nor his parents, never sinned, only that his blindness was not a direct result of an individual act of sin.

Enter Job.

In the book of Job we are introduced to a righteous man.  This declaration by God defines all that comes afterwards and in fact aides in understanding Job’s response to his personal calamity.  What does it mean that Job was righteous?  It CANNOT mean that Job was sinless.

This is important.

Here’s what we read in the prologue of Job:

“There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” Job 1:1

Three key descriptions are given to Job:

  1. Blameless and Upright
  2. Feared God
  3. Turned Away from Evil

In short, we may surmise that Job did not live in open sin and he feared God.  By all accounts we would describe him as a morally upright man.  If we were to strictly conclude that individual sins may always be directly correlated to “disciplining” events in our life at the hand of God, as we saw with Moses, it would appear that Job would be the least likely candidate for what was to happen in his life.

In other words, there is not a DIRECT correlation between a particular sin that Job committed and the suffering that he endured.  This was partly the error of his 3 counseling “friends” who felt that the justice of God demanded that He must bring physical retribution against any and all sin, so that must be the reason for Job’s troubles.  They represent the classic example of misapplying correct doctrine.  Essentially they were flattening out the justice of God to an across the board application.  More on that perhaps in another post.

So what may we glean from Job that would help us better maintain the tension between sin and discipline that was mentioned in the post on Moses’ sin?

First, through Job we see that physical suffering is not necessarily tied to individual misdeeds or sin.

Second, because we live in a fallen world, all suffering finds its roots in sin, generally.

Third, we often do see the wicked prospering, but it does not mean that God is unjust.   We need also to remember that in such a case, God is storing up wrath for the Day of Judgment (Romans 2:5-11).  Conversely, we often see the “righteous” suffering, though this is only temporary and is not to be compared with the eternal weight of glory which awaits them.

Fourth, when suffering does come, it is not punishment, though it may be discipline for our good and God’s glory.  This may require that we expand our understanding of God’s discipline to realize that it is always loving, it is always to purify, and though it may be generally painful, it is temporary and working to conform us more to the image of Christ (See Hebrews 12:4-13).  In other words, suffering is never meaningless.

Fifth, God is sovereign over every circumstance, including the trials and tribulations that come in our lives.

Six, when suffering/discipline comes we should

  • A) Recognize the hand of a Holy God
  • B) Recognize our own inherent sinfulness.

Seven, trust as Job did, in our Mediator – Jesus Christ; that He intercedes on our behalf to the Father;  and that through Christ we may come to the mercy seat and find grace in our time of need.

Eight, in the face of suffering at the disciplining hand of Almighty God, consider 1 of 2 responses

  • A) Keep our mouths shut before the all-holy God
  • B) Confess our inherent sinfulness and plead mercy on behalf of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In either or both responses, trust the sovereign hand of a just, holy God (more to come on this in the next post, Lord willing).

There is a danger in reading of a tragedy like Moses’ where his sin was specifically tied to an episode of discipline and then extract that principle across the board, either to our own lives or to the lives of others, wrongly concluding that a particular sin or lifestyle of sin has caused a difficult circumstance to arise.  Make no mistake, it can, as with Moses, and this should cause us holy, reverent fear of God, but it cannot be flattened across the board, as with Job.

God is far too complex for that simplistic view of how He governs the universe.  Again, this was one of the errors of Job’s friends.

In summary, as believers in Christ when we experience challenging and trying situations or are counseling others through them, we need to avoid the two ditches of applicational error.  The first, that of Job’s by thinking that we do not deserve to suffer.  The other,  that of his friends, by thinking that all trials are just retribution and precisely what we deserve.  Keeping this balance and maintaining this tension will go along way towards helping us navigate the waters of difficulty.

Take the High Road

 

Have you ever been faced with a situation of retaliation or revenge toward someone in your life? How did you respond? It’s often easy for us to get locked into a mentality of spitefulness when this happens, but the Bible tells us otherwise. Job 42:10 says, “After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.” Note that it was after Job had prayed for his friends that God made him prosperous. These weren’t friends that carried him through his trials and tribulations, these were “friends” that criticized and ridiculed him, encouraging him to curse God. Job’s response was to pray for them. John 15:13 reminds us that, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” In its context, this passage is clearly in reference to Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross; for those who ridiculed, betrayed, beat, even murdered Him (see Romans 5:8).  Think about the following actions next time you’re at the cross roads of the low road of retaliation or the high road of love:

 Low Road

  1. Revenge and Retaliation when wronged
  2. Plays the same game as others
  3. Guided by emotions; up and down
  4. Reactive: lives no better than anyone else

High Road

  1. Unconditional love and forgiveness
  2. Refuses to play games; lives by principles
  3. Guided by character and values
  4. Pro-active: lives above merely human standards

Have a Blessed Day!

 

Trial by Fire

Many times in life (like now for me!) we’re faced with what seems like insurmountable odds. Such obstacles are those that we allow to sap our strength and question our faith. These trials by fire strike at our very core in what often can be described as character defining moments. To help illustrate this point, I want to paint a picture of the power of fire. Its ability to destroy virtually everything in its path, including property, forests, and plains. Fire can quite simply be summed up as devastatingly uncontrollable. But is it always bad? Can we only focus on the negative destructive forces or is there growth that can come from it?

Let’s answer those questions by looking at how nature responds to her trials by fire. No doubt we’ve seen or experienced the devastation of fire and its smoldering charred path. But were you aware that several plant species use fire as an opportunity for growth? For example, some plants shield their vital organs, like the Ponderosa pine, while others are equipped with moist tissues to absorb the heat. Others, like the Australian grass trees see fire as an opportunity to bloom and may in fact only bloom after a fire. Still other plants use fire as a way to promote their own reproduction by replacing those plants that were scorched by the flames. Fire also has the power to sweep through a forest clearing out underbrush and weeds that would eventually choke out other vegetation. So essentially, in nature, fire is capable of bringing growth.

How can we relate this to our lives? Well, perhaps the most inspirational biblical figure for growth via trial by fire is Job. Job was a God fearing, blameless, and upright man. He would be considered wealthy by even today’s standards and had been blessed with 7 sons and 3 daughters. As many of you might already know, God allowed Satan to test Job’s resolve and his faithfulness to the Lord. Satan took all of Job’s wealth, every child of his along with his servants and livestock died, everything was gone. Except for Job’s spirit; that’s the one thing that Satan had no control over. Job’s reply to his losses was, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21 Job was then afflicted physically with painful sores. Despite his wife’s admonition, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Job was steadfast in his reply, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job 2:9-10 In all of these trials, Job remained unwavering and did not sin. Though most of Job is actually a poem, it might best be described as a “tragedy”. What follows throughout the rest of the book is a continuation of Job’s trials, all the while being mocked by people for not cursing God. But Job weathered the fiery storm. After his storm, the Lord blessed Job with twice as much wealth than he originally had and blessed the later part of his life more than the first.

The story of Job should serve as inspiration to not only worship God in times of blessings, but also praise Him in our storms. In every trial there is opportunity for growth, but it’s how we respond to it that defines who we are. Our lives should mirror nature’s response to fire by exhibiting growth and Job’s resolve to remain steadfast in the Lord during that process. We likewise should see it as an opportunity to prepare ourselves for trials spiritually through prayer and reading the Word of God. And they will come, Christian or not. We need to view these times as character building moments that allow us to bloom and seize control of areas in our lives that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to grow in.