Teaching

Why Bother?

After Job closes his last response with the words ‘There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood” (21.34), Eliphaz replies and asks, simply, why are you bothering to keep going with this, Job?

“Can a man be profitable to God?
Surely he who is wise is profitable to himself.
Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are in the right,
or is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless?

Job 22.2-3

Eliphaz is trying to convince Job, look, stop telling us you are right before God, so what if you are?, does God even care?, why bother?

It’s so easy to feel like this, isn’t it? Why am I bothering to keep going down this path paved with hurdles and obstacles, does it really matter? Does God even care? It is making any difference? 

In Luke 15 we read of three examples that show us that yes, God cares, and that there is a reason for us to be so bothered about the life we are living. Through reading the parables of the lost sheep (15.3-7), the lost coin (15.8-10), and the prodigal son (15.11-32), Luke records for us three proofs that we should be bothered, that we should keep going in the face of push-back, of trials, of temptations, of opposition, of our own self-doubt, of anything. 

Eliphaz asks is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are in the right? Yes, it is.

…there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15.7)

…there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15.10)

the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. (Luke 15.22-24)

Be bothered. Keep going. He sees, He cares, and He loves you.

Living a Life of Words

There are things for us to do now we are believers in Jesus, and, sure, choosing words carefully is one of them; kind, loving, caring, encouraging, edifying, counselling, and consistent (James 3.1-12).

Imagine that Jesus was taking another walk on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24.27) with the New Testament in hand, how would He explain this part of James in relation to Himself?

I’m gonna suggest that He would say this – Words of life are found in one place only.

In John 6 Jesus said 

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. 

Basically, you will never tame your own tongue in your own power and never. 

Edwin Blum wrote that

The Holy Spirit, poured out in the world, gives life (salvation) to those who believe. Without the Holy Spirit, man (flesh) is utterly unable to understand Jesus’ person and His works [and then act accordingly].

Jesus continues and says

The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

He was talking about eternal life, how it is only found in Him, that we must partake of His life and work and sacrificed body to truly inherit eternal life, and that we must look beyond the physical rituals of religion to the words that He is saying and the things He is teaching. His Words carry meaning and truth, and because this is hard, some left Him. We read,  

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 

So He asked the 12, are you leaving as well? He had said some tough truths and people left Him…imagine that. Do you know what the 12 said to Him?

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Jesus’ words lead to life. No one else, nobody else’s words lead to eternal life.

It’s so easy to look at passages like James 3.1-12 and be very moral: You need to be in control of your tongue and your speech. Words are powerful, words can heal, words can cut down, words matter, your words matter. 

That’s not incorrect, but it’s incomplete. 

Rather than be all moral and preach-y, we ought to look at passages like this with a Christ-centred lens: Your words do matter, but Jesus has the words of eternal life.

So yes, work hard to choose your words carefully, but ultimately let us rest in the promises of eternal life found in the words of Jesus.

Is Life Fair?

Back in 20.4-11, Zophar said, basically, that the wicked get what is coming to them and die. Here Job responds with another probing question, is life fair?

Why do the wicked live,
reach old age, and grow mighty in power?

Job 21.7

How do we accept things like this?

How do we accept that the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power? If we are trying earnestly to live the life that God wants us to live, how can we accept the fact that those who are brazenly not living His life seem to be prospering (v.14)?

In a world where we (want to) control everything and everyone around us, this kind of deep moral contradiction seems to outrage us; he/she is bad…but they are doing well…this should not be so…

Deep down, this is a perspective issue. Do we think we are the ultimate authority and judge in the universe? Do we think that everything ought to be as we want it to be? Are we so detached from objective truth that everything is evaluated through our own lens of subjective truth?

Do you know what, sometimes life isn’t going to feel fair. People who seem to be wicked will seem to be prospering, people who do objectively bad things will seemingly face no consequence, and people who are diligently trying to follow God’s plan for life will be seemingly second best. 

The answer to this is perspective, to look beyond our brief physical habitation on earth. I read somewhere that one of the big problems with people and their assessment of life as unfair is that they only look at themselves and their earthly physical life. No thoughts of eternity, no big picture thoughts. That’s true, isn’t it.

We forget that we are made with eternity in mind.

We forget that we are not working towards earthly rewards and riches.

We forget that no eye has seen, that no ear has heard what is waiting for us.

We forget that we are created, finite beings, with a limited perspective.

We forget that we are not the centre of the universe and ultimate moral judges.

Sometimes life is not going to feel fair by your standards and expectations. When these feelings creep into your mind, turn to the timeless and objective truths of the Word of God, and slowly but surely begin to accept that His perspective is different, bigger, better, and ultimately how you want to see things. 

Social Distancing, Physical Distancing, and the Church

As much of the world now goes into lockdown meaning that voluntary social distancing becomes social distancing through government order, I wanted us to pause our study through Job and consider the difference between social distancing and physical distancing.

Rather than term what we are all doing social distancing,

would it not be better to refer to this as physical distancing?

Social distancing means that we are isolated socially, not in touch with anybody, alone, feeling abandoned, and definitely not part of a loving and living body of people (1 Corinthians 12.12).

Physical distancing is simply just that; you don’t get too close to people.

Small difference in choice of words, HUGE difference in understanding, acceptance, and practice.

For the sake of others, let us practice willingly and obediently physical distancing. The church is still the church despite physical distance. Jesus said that on the bedrock truth that He is the Son of God, that He is Divine, that He is the Messiah, that He is Almighty God,

I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

Matthew 16.18b

During times of adversity and tribulation and trial, we will see if the church is really the church.

We will see if this body of people is self-supporting, self-sustaining, and self-supplicating (James 5.16).

We will see if this body of people is Kingdom focused, or kingdom focused (Matthew 6.24).

We will see if the church is filling its God-given mandate to make disciples (Matthew 28.19-20).

We will see if there is fruit and a root (James 2.14-26).

We will see if this called-out-of-the-world group of people really are fully regenerate born again believers part of the living body of Christ, or just a group of consumers who turn up to watch a religious TEDTalk once a week.

This is going sting for some, turn some away (John 6.60), but for those truly in the body this is going to be a defining period of time, a call to action, a call to take up arms, a call to show that yes, we are the church, we aren’t going anywhere, we are here for each other and for the world. 

Brother, sisters, let us practice physical distancing but not social distancing, and let us show the world that we are the church today, tomorrow, and every day.

What Do Words Do?

In between Job’s last question and this one, Bildad interjects and says, basically, that Job ought to listen to the rebuke of his friends. Job then replies and says,

How long will you torment me
and break me in pieces with words?

Job 19.2

Words are so powerful, aren’t they. Here we see Job’s friends using harsh and hard words towards him. Remember that old saying that ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me‘? It’s not true, is it. Hard words hurt. Harsh words hurt. Even more so when tensions are high and emotions are frayed. Job is enduring the worst of all earthly circumstances and his friends have not chosen their words wisely, it seems. 

We read in Proverbs that 

Kind words are like honey—
sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

16.24

Words have the power to cut people down, but they also have the power to build people up. We read in the book of James that it is so important that we choose our words wisely (3.1-12). Words are so powerful, aren’t they.

Try as we might, we will never make the right choice with our words 100% of the time. But, there was One who did. Peter described this One as having words of eternal life (John 6.68-69). 

There is only one place to go for words that always heal, always encourage, always edify, always build up.

There is only one place to go for words that are always sweet to the soul and are always healthy to the body.

There is only one place to go for words of eternal life.

In this time of global uncertainty, I would encourage you to make the same decision Peter does here,

…Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

John 6.67-69

Where Is My Hope?

Job laments the poor counsel he is receiving (16.1-22), then asks a universal question, where is my hope? (v.3, 15).

With the world as it is right now, full of COVID-19 information, misinformation, anxiety, stress, and uncertainty, Job’s question is timeless and still very true. So, where do we turn for hope?

Do we turn to the news outlets? But how do we know if it’s genuine or biased? Clear or contradictory?

Do we turn to social media to connect with others? But how do we know that this is a genuine picture of people’s life? Facts or filters?

Do we turn to home comforts? Do we turn to earthly pleasures? Do we turn to worldly ways of ignoring reality? We could go on…

There is only one infallible, evidenced, proven, steadfast, sure, anchor-like place to turn for hope in the midst of trial and tribulation (Hebrews 6.19).

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121

Adam Clarke wrote this, a fitting thought to take into today,

“Job himself, though sometimes strongly confident, is often harassed with doubts and fears upon the subject, insomuch that his sayings and experience often appear contradictory.

Perhaps it could not be otherwise; the true light was not then come: Jesus alone brought life and immortality to light by his Gospel.”

Our hope always comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. Turn to Him today!

Where Does My Comfort Come From?

Today Eliphaz takes his turn to speak. It looks like he feels that the counsel of good friends is all that is provided for comfort during trials (15.9-11), and Eliphaz is not impressed with Job’s resolute trust in God (13.15).

Are the comforts of God too small for you,
or the word that deals gently with you?
Why does your heart carry you away,
and why do your eyes flash,
that you turn your spirit against God
and bring such words out of your mouth?

Job 15.1-13

He asks, simply, where does comfort come from then? He seems to think that God’s comfort is exclusively given through the counsel of others (Are the comforts of God too small for you,
or the word that deals gently with you?). Whilst this is not untrue, it is not exclusively true. God certainly does speak through the counsel of other believers in our lives. Huge comfort can be taken from being in the presence of someone who has been in the presence of the Lord. 

However, this is but one way the Lord comforts His people. They are vast and varied, but I would suggest that they all point to one place. God’s comfort in times of trouble and affliction, in times of stress and anxiety, in times of uncertainty and persecution is the One we read of in Luke 2,

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
    according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

God’s comfort always takes us in some way, shape, or form, to the Lord Jesus Christ, the consolation of Israel, God’s light for revelation, salvation, and glory.

If you are troubled, afflicted, stressed, anxious, or uncertain today, seek out the comfort of God available to you through the person and work of Jesus.