Friday, February 11, 2005

The Almighty had embittered my soul: Job 27:2-6

"As God lives, who has taken away my right, and the Almighty, who has embittered my soul, for as long as life is in me, and the breath of God is in my nostrils, my lips certainly will not speak unjustly, nor will my tongue mutter deceit. Far be it from me that I should declare you right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go. My heart does not reproach any of my days." (Job 27:2-6)
Let there be no mistake, Job is wrong in his assessment of God. God had not taken away his right. God was still maintaining Job's right and, though it did not seem immediately apparent, in the end God's justice would prevail and Job would be restored. Nor is God to blame for Job's bitterness of soul. Job had suffered greatly. His pain took its toll on him and his emotions. However, Job's response was to blame God for his suffering. Job's anger towards God led to his bitterness of soul. In blaming God, Job spoke what was wrong, and soon he would be required to give an account for his words which he spoke in his folly.

However, though Job's anger and his words against God were wrong, he was none the less innocent of the things of which his friends had accused him of. Job was a righteous man. Even though, in his suffering, he uttered words he should not have, he was still the boast of God, "Have you considered My servant Job?" (Job 1:8) When it came to the accusations of his friends, Job's stance was to stand firm and to reject their judgments. "Far be it from me that I should declare you right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me." (Job 27:5) Job knew that he was innocent of their charges and would not take their condemnation upon himself.

We need to be careful to not let the judgments of others affect our lives. Some people are "guilt magnets". Every time they hear a message on sin, they are sure it applies to them. They easily accept condemnation from others, whether its warranted or not. Paul was not such a person, he said,
"But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself . For I am conscious of nothing against myself , yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord." (1 Corinthians 4:3-4)
It really does not matter what others think of us, what matters is what God thinks. Whether people approve or disapprove of our lives is immaterial. What counts is if God approves of our life. We walk before God and it is God who judges us and it is before God that we must give account.

Does this mean that we can summarily reject the counsel of others as not coming from the Lord? By no means. God speaks to us in many ways: in His word, by His Spirit, through our circumstances, and through the counsel of others. What we need to do is to learn to hear the voice of the Lord in what ever way He is trying to speak to us. Then, once we have discerned His voice, we must become obedient to what He is saying. If we have erred, then God will tell us. If not, then we need not be concerned with the judgments of others. If we are sincere in our desire to hear and obey the voice of God, it will be clear when He is seeking to bring conviction of our sin and when He is not. If God is not judging us, then we need not concern ourselves with the judgments of men.

David Robison

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