I mean, seriously, who wants to read multiple accounts of Job complaining, his friends accusing, then Job complaining more, then his friends accusing him more, then Job complaining more and declaring his innocence, and then.... well, you get the picture.
But I have to tell you, God has really revealed so many truths to me over the past two weeks as a result of really digging in to all these conversations between Job and his friends and God, more than I can even talk about.
But I will begin by saying, that as a result of having never read the entire book of Job, for years I have pictured Job as this poor innocent man who was caused unspeakable suffering, simply because God wanted to prove his faith to Satan. I thought he was an incredibly strong man, who despite his suffering, continued in his faith without blinking an eye. But in actuality, that is not the story at all.
You see, Job was a faithful man. He loved his Lord. He spent much of his life doing good things and trying to please God. But in his heart, he felt prideful. The story leads us to believe, in my opinion, that Job had begun to think that his attempts to live a righteous life, and his good deeds, made him superior to others, and perfect in Gods eyes. That my friend, I think was his biggest mistake, and the real reason that God allowed suffering to be brought into his life.
Chapter after chapter, we are told of Jobs continued confusion, defiance, and claims of innocence, and how he continued to claim that he had never sinned, proclaiming his righteousness before God, and all the while, also proclaiming that God should be punishing the bad people, instead of him. In other words - God had messed up.
Needless to say, God does not mess up - ever. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-omnipotent, and there never has been and never will be any knowledge or power that surpasses his. So why would he choose to allow suffering to a man who had seemingly devoted his entire life to loving the Lord? It seems to all boil down to one point - his pride.
God hates a prideful man, or woman. Proverbs 11:2 says, "Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom", and Proverbs 16:18 says "Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall." Why do you think God despises pride so much? Why is it so sinful to believe that we are righteous or good or successful or attractive, especially if we have spent our lives trying to be a good person and a good servant? The answer is simply because pride can become a barrier between us and God, and that does not please God at all.
You see, Job felt so righteous and prideful that he eventually began to see himself as good as God. He was confident that he was sinless, and that he had done everything that could be done to please God. But in his heart, he was full of pride, and that pride brought him destruction.
Job had a great friend in Elihu, in Job 35 and 36. Here are just a few of the many, many truths that Elihu shared with Job, to help him see that his pride was a problem in his heart, but also to reassure him that God still loved and adored him, and wanted to save him from future problems:
Job 35:12 And when they cry out, God does not answer because of their pride.
Job 35:5 God is mighty, but he does not despise anyone! He is mighty in both power and understanding.
Job 35:7 If they are bound in chains and caught up in a web of trouble, He shows them the reason. He shows them their sins of pride.
Job 35:15 But by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer. For He gets their attention through their adversity.
Job 35:16 God is leading you away from danger, Job, to a place free from distress.
Elihu is careful to point out that Jobs works meant nothing to God, it was his heart that God cared about, and God was willing to do whatever it took to get Jobs attention, and unfortunately, that meant suffering. But although God allowed this suffering, he sent friends to mourn with him, he sent friends to argue with him and cause him to start doubting himself and his existence, and he sent Elihu to gently draw him back in Gods presence and help him again see the loving God.
Nobody wants to suffer - and even moreso, nobody wants to suffer as a result of their own actions. Today it might be time for us all to consider how much we really think of ourselves. Although we love the Lord, do we possibly do things in order to gain His approval? Are we always doing these good deeds with the right heart, or because we think it makes us look good in our church or community? Do we see ourselves as better than other people, because of our strong faith and good deeds?
It is a fine line to consider, and I can attest to the fact that we have to swallow a lot of humility to do this kind of self examination. But in the end, dont we all desire that God love us for our hearts, not for our deeds? Dont we all know deep down, that we can never be like God, because we are born as sinners, even if we think our sins arent 'all that bad'?
Every believer longs for the day when they when they meet God face to face, and can hear the words, "you have been My good and faithful servant". If we serve God with the right heart, without pride standing in the way, I feel confident that we will hear these sweet words, and what a glorious day that will be. :)
Prayer for the day: Lord, please expose any pride in my heart that needs to come out. Help me to see myself for who I am, nothing less, and nothing more. Cleanse my heart and nudge my soul each time pride tries to creep back in. Make me aware of times when I am judgemental or critical of others, and prick my conscience when I am beginning to feel superior in any way. Thank you Lord for loving me enough to remind me when I need to turn back to you. In Jesus name, Amen.