This is not a post about employment, it’s about people. To put it another way, I am talking about capital ‘J’ Jobs. You know, the Job of the bible. If I were to ask you if you wanted to be like Job or if you wanted your church to be full of Jobs you would, no doubt, cringe. What kind of sadist wishes Job’s condition upon another person? We live in a world which is full of suffering and the Bible addresses for us the benefits that come to the body of Christ through suffering (James 1:2ff) These things being so, Job’s reaction to suffering, in it’s initial stages, in it’s full flower, and following the Lord’s self revelation, have much to commend our attention, instruction, and imitation. But I want to focus for a moment upon the description of Job before his suffering.
Job is described by the Holy Spirit in these terms, “that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.” There are other folks in the Bible described in similar language (more of this in an upcoming post). In the words of 1 John 3:7, he practiced righteousness. He had a perfect justifying righteousness before God in Christ and a practical, demonstrable and real practice of righteousness on earth. He lived his life in the fear of God. He lived for the eyes and ears of God. He lived for the smile of God–and he had it. When sin presented itself he fled. When it corrupted him inwardly or outwardly, he repented, forsook it, was cleansed, empowered and went on. When the pathway of duty was made known, his heart would have cried, “I will run in the way of your commandments” or in the words of his coming Savior, “I have come to do your will, O God.” (Psalm 119:32 and Hebrews 10:7–see also Psalm 40:8). Does that sound like someone you know? Does it sound like your pastor, your deacon, your father or mother, your husband or wife, your brother or your sister? Does it sound like the average Joe (or Josephine) at your church? Does it sound like someone you would want to know? Does it sound like the kind of person you would want to be part of your fellowship? Does he sound like a dreaded Legalist or Pharisee?
As you read the book of Job and the rest of the Bible it becomes apparent that the Holy Spirit is not speaking about sinless perfection. But the Spirit is speaking truthfully. The Lord speaks of the rarity of such an individual at this time, “Have you considered my servant, Job, that there is none like him on the Earth?” Sadly, this description is rare in our own day as well. There seems to be an almost perverse joy in Christian’s speaking about how bad they are. The more they fail, the more they indulge, the more ‘raw’, ‘authentic’, ‘wounded’, and hence ‘useful’ they are in ministering to believers and unbelievers. We’re just a bunch of sinners, a bunch of failures we are told repeatedly. We have black hearts, deceitful hearts, cold hearts. What we seem to be saying is that grace has not made much of a difference to our daily lives. We have gained little in regard to the fear of God and the pursuit of holiness. The putting off of the old man, the crucifying of the flesh, and the refusal to make provision for it in regard to its lust is somehow seen as dangerous and contrary to the gospel. I would argue that Job’s character epitomizes the gospel. Paul told Titus that the ‘the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age (Titus 2:11, 12) and that Jesus ‘gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.’
Is there evidence that He has and is doing this in your life and in your flock? Where are those in our midst notable for their God fearing? Notable for shunning and hating evil (as defined by God)? Notable for their uprightness and blamelessness (that is, they obey God–including confessing and forsaking their sin, consistently and actually)? Our faith is not only to be proclaimed, it is to be lived. Sinners must not only hear our gospel, they must see the effects of the gospel (Matt. 5:16, 1 Tim. 5:25, Titus 3:8, 1 Peter 2:12). In this is the Gospel proven, in this God is glorified, in this the church is strengthened, in this we shine as lights.