I Have My Integrity, By God’s Grace

Job 31

Early in story of Job, given brief insight into his mindset toward God – “he would get up early in the morning and offer burnt offerings….This was Job’s customary practice.” (Job 1:5) Tells us what he did when he worshiped, what about rest of the day? Did Job fulfill his religious obligation “early in the morning” so he could have rest of day to himself? Kind of like so many do on Sunday? Go to church for an hour, God forbid it be more than hour and ten tops, then figure rest of the day and next six are mine? Highly unlikely anyone who knew Job would honestly describe his life that way.

Author of the book sure didn’t make Job out to be Sunday-go-to-meeting-Christian. In very first verse of book declared “that man was pure and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” That assessment repeated twice by God himself:

Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil.” (Job 1:8)

Have you considered my servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil. And he still holds firmly to his integrity,” (Job 2:3)

Ok, that’s wonderful, Job was really nice guy. But…what does that look like in real life? where the rubber meets the road? when life gets down and dirty? Up to this point in Job’s story, have seen how he responded from middle of affliction. In chapter 29 Job described his actions toward others; in our text, Job gives clear picture of what kind of man he really was – his true character and how that motivated his righteous behavior.

In his final speech, life used to be great (ch. 29); now, it really stinks (ch. 30); but….if God will only appear and interact, there is hope (ch. 31). Has lived a righteous life under all his various hats. Has given his deposition declaring his innocence, signed it (v.35), now just waiting for the Almighty his prosecutor to answer him. Even if God had written the book, Job could still wear it proudly, confidently.

Here we see the real heart of Job, the man, the employer, the neighbor, the worshiper, the steward; also see God, the vindicator. First Job, the man.

A. Job, the man v.1-12

only right desires (1a)

entered into covenant with his innermost being that he would only do what is right – began at the beginning

dealing with the root: desire is fueled by considering what will tempt – James 1:14-15But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

here is turning away from evil put into practice – determination to avoid whatever would entice to sin

committed to faithfulness (1b, 4)

fixed in his purpose: under no circumstances would he be unfaithful to his wife – physically, emotionally, in any way

fidelity to wife just one example; same attitude applied across the board in Job’s relationships – required for one consciously living coram Deo, before the face of God (v.4)

followed conscience (3)

animals don’t have conscience, wicked don’t listen to their conscience (mostly) – result according to God’s plan is disaster

never practicing deceit (5-8)

just like with personal relationships, commitment to integrity and faithfulness requires commitment to the truth

there’s a lot to be said for walking the straight and narrow! don’t have to remember what you said, what you meant if you aren’t deceitful

Job acted according to his character: honest and upright both privately and publicly, personal and business relationships (only one set of books, e.g.)

unable to show disloyalty (9-12)

again, is depth of commitment that goes to Job’s very core – has guarded his heart, not allowed seduction to begin taking root

shows his understanding that health of family relationships is foundational to all of life: when family is messed up, so is neighborhood, workplace, government

B. Job, the employer v.13-15

equitable (13-14)

didn’t have double standard or expect God to tolerate one; if/when employee had legitimate complaint, addressed it fairly

followed the Golden Rule before Jesus laid it out: Matt. 7:12“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.”

charitable (15)

“full of love for and goodwill toward others”; “showing sympathy and understanding and generosity”

Important note: Job understood what many today do not – people have worth and dignity and deserve to be treated considerately because of who they are, not because of what they do…even in the workplace. What we do, where we work, job title, professional certifications, college degrees do not define who we are. We are human beings bearing the image of the Creator and receiving life from him – that is the starting place.

C. Job, the neighbor v.16-23, 29-34

second command, true religion

Jesus quoted from Lev. 19:18 “you shall love your neighbor as yourself”; reinforced by James 1:27Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

giving lavishly (16-20, 31)

refused nothing the poor desired from him; even from young age watched over orphans in the neighborhood, provided for widows – something he had customarily done all his life, probably learned from his parents

no one could accuse Job of holding back; anyone who received help from Job got all they needed and a little more – as much as possible a hand up, not simply a handout

hospitable to neighbors and strangers alike (17, 32)

not only orphans who were welcome at Job’s table – imagine mealtime when his kids were growing up: 7 boys, 3 girls, plus who knows how many of their friends

had an open-door policy, compassion like Jesus: Mark 8:3“if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.”

traveling? late in the day? spend the night with Job! he always has room

advocate (21)

used his power in the “courts” to improve the lot of the needy, not oppress them; whether material resources or influence, treated it as gift from God to be used for benefit of others

considerate (29-30)

in good times or in affliction, Job was not overcome with evil but worked to overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21)

did what was pleasing to God even to those who resented his position/blessings and didn’t gloat when they got their due

not afraid of public scrutiny (33-34)

had no skeletons in his closet, things he had done in past life that would have made him look bad

his life an open book before his neighbors as well as his God – scrutinize it carefully, he had nothing to fear

D. Job, the worshiper v.24-28

rejected the gods of the atheist (24-25)

practical atheist, one who lives as if there is no God, trusts in his stuff, his achievements; Job had no patience for that

rejected the gods of the pagans (26-27)

pagans worshiped sun and moon, the creation rather than Creator (think Stonehenge); Job knew that to do so would deserve judgment

wasn’t only fear of judgment that kept him from idol-worship; if fear was Job’s only motivation, Satan would have won, Job would have cursed God when affliction (judgment) came

worshiped true God (28)

Job maintained his integrity, also retained his commitment of faithfulness to the true God, the one above all other gods

E. Job, the steward v.38-40

managed resources by God’s rules

took care of his stuff – didn’t worship it, treated it well, as a gift from God and not to be abused; as for others dependent on the land for their livelihood, Job treated them well also

F. God, the vindicator v.35-37

Wow! God was right, no one like him in all the earth. Job had his integrity, maintained it throughout his affliction, but he wasn’t saved because of it. Job was saved same way anyone else is: by God’s grace through faith. Job was crying out to God for vindication of his righteousness, not deliverance/salvation based on it. Job wanted God’s approval, but of God’s own work in Job, not his own.

Will repeat again: Job’s good works, his righteous character was not what saved him, not what made him acceptable before God. Job understood that – was why he continually sacrificed to God. If any of us are to have same standing before God as Job did, will be that God has extended grace to us. Only on the basis of saving faith in Lord Jesus and his merit can we be certain of eternal life.

 

So how can we handle the cross God gives to us? with the kind of good character Job had? Job’s character really showing the fruit, the evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in him. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1) Walk according to the Spirit, depending every moment of every day on God and his amazing grace for help and strength to carry our cross and follow Jesus.

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