Job: When the Tables Are Turned Part 3

The world isn’t fair, but the world is designed nevertheless to accomplish the purpose of God.


Job was a “righteous man” (as far as people go), but he wasn’t very sympathetic toward other people going through tough times. We realize this only when his friends mirror the advice to him that he gave to others. (See Job: When the Tables Are Turned Part 1) It’s easy to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to. It’s easy to be “good” and religious when things are going well. When the tables turn, however, our attitudes and perspectives change. (See Job: When the Tables Are Turned Part 2)

The Book of Job is an example that religious people, and good people, generally, sometimes have a hard time sympathizing with people going through tough times. We tend to think that they deserve what they get for making bad decisions, doing bad things or just being unwise.

The truth is, though, that bad things happen to “good” people; and sometimes, “bad” people don’t get what they deserve. Life isn’t fair, as I say often to my children.

Job thought of himself as righteous, and he was righteous – at least more righteous than most. He was proud of his goodness and attributed the good fortune he enjoyed to his moral character and wise living.

Job and his friends looked down on others who suffered hardship, believing that the hardship they suffered was the just fruits of their bad decisions, bad character and lack of wisdom and faithfulness toward God.

Only when the tables turned did Job wake up to the fact that life isn’t fair. He may have been a better man that most or all of the people he knew, but that didn’t prevent calamity from overtaking him. The hollow advice he had given others (live right and all will be well) rang false when the shoe was on the other foot.

Of course, goodness and badness are relative in human terms. We often only think of goodness and badness in human terms, and we fail to appreciate that God’s standard of goodness is on a completely different level than ours.

Jesus made that clear in stating that “only God is good” (Mark 10:38), words that Paul echoed when he said no one is righteous, not a single person. (Romans 3:20)

Again, we have to look to Jesus to understand God’s standard of goodness (perfection). He explained the standard in the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus demonstrated that standard in his own life.

Jesus went well beyond the Ten Commandments by directing people to look inward. We don’t satisfy God’s ultimate standard by refraining from murdering people or committing adultery, for instance. That’s only scratching the surface. Perfection requires that we refrain from harboring anger in our hearts towards others, refrain from casting insults and thinking them fools. (Matt. 5:21-26) Perfection means not even looking at another person with lust in our hearts. (Matt. 5:27-28)

Jesus went much, much further still. Perfection isn’t just what we should refrain from doing; perfection is demonstrated in affirmatively loving people. And, it’s not enough merely to love family friends and people good to us.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:43-48)

Perfection requires love, the kind of love God demonstrated in Jesus. In Jesus, God emptied Himself of His power, privilege and position to become one of us, and He submitted Himself to the point of laying down His life for our benefit. (Phil. 2:6-8) When Jesus said there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for others (John 15:13), Jesus backed those words by doing exactly that.

Job and his friends had no sympathy for people going through hard times because they thought more highly of themselves than they should have. They thought they were better than they were, and they thought heir goodness (or lack thereof) should result in reward in this life. But it doesn’t. That is the harsh reality.

When the tables were turned on Job, he came to realize that it didn’t matter that he was “better” than others. He became aware that bad things happen to “good” people, and sometimes “bad” people reap good things they don’t appear to deserve. Job and his friends felt comfortable in a world in which they thought they could earn good things with good behavior, and Job is undone when he realizes the world God made doesn’t work like that.

Continue reading “Job: When the Tables Are Turned Part 3”

Job: When the Tables Are Turned Part 2

Our attitudes change when we experience tough times and should inform the way we approach others.


The story of Job is a lesson in the way we should view ourselves, others and God. I wrote in Job: When the Tables Are Turned Part 1 how Job was viewed, and viewed himself, as a righteous man. We know, though, that no one is really righteous, at least when compared with the perfection of God.

Who hasn’t gotten angry with other people, insulted them and called them fools? Who hasn’t lusted after other people in your heart? Who hasn’t lied, cheated, acted or reacted out of jealousy, spite or pride? Who has observed every law, all of the time, even when no one is looking? We can’t boast of being perfect because no one is perfect. (Romans 3:20)

We don’t even have a good idea of what perfect means.

Jesus said being perfect means turning the other cheek, offering our coat to the person who asks for our shirt, going two miles when someone forces you to go one, giving to all who beg from you and loaning to all who ask to borrow. (Matt. 5:39-42) Jesus said that being perfect means loving our enemies! (Matt. 4:43) It’s not enough to love our friends, family and people who are good to us. Being good means loving our enemies and praying even for those who persecute us. (Matt. 5:44)

Thus, when the Book of Job says he was a righteous man, we need to understand that this was how Job viewed himself, but he wasn’t righteous like God is righteous.

Job’s view of himself colored the way he saw himself, other people and God. He thought more highly of himself than he should have, and he looked down on others. He believed that his good fortunes were the result of his good living, and he was convinced that the misfortunes of other people were brought upon themselves by their own failures.

Job believed that God rewarded good living with good things, like a worker earns his wages. His friends believed that too, as we see it in their responses to Job and their attempts to “counsel” him. In fact, the way Job’s friends respond to him implies that they were mirroring to Job the exact same advice Job had given to others in the past.

Eliphaz was the first to speak to Job, asking, “If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? But who can keep from speaking?” (Job 4:1)

These words smack of being rhetorical. Eliphaz knew Job would be impatient with him, but he was going to speak anyway. A clue regarding why Job’s friend responds this way to him is found in the next verses.

“Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees. But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed. Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope? ‘Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off?'” (Job 4:3-7 ESV)

From these verses we learn that Job was known for the “advice” he gave to others in their distress, but now the tables were turned. Job was no longer in the superior position of fortune, privilege and ease. Job had lost everything – his wealth, his house, his children and his health. Joseph was complaining bitterly. Now that he was no longer on top of the world, his attitude had changed.

Continue reading “Job: When the Tables Are Turned Part 2”

Job: When the Tables Are Turned Part 1

Job was probably the envy of all who knew him, and he was probably insufferable because of it.


Job was a righteous man the Book of Job says in the opening chapter and verse. (Job 1:1) But was he really? It seems that Job was very well regarded in his community, taking a prominent place (at the gate where the wise men sat). Job thought he was righteous and believed that everyone saw him that way too: as a righteous man above reproach. (Job 32:7-17)

Job was also a very wealthy man. He had a large family. He was proud of his good fortune, which he believed was the result of his righteous living. He even offered sacrifices for his children in case they sinned. (Job 1:5) I get the impression he didn’t think they had sinned, but he wanted to get a jump on it if they did.

Job reminds me of the kind of person who lives in a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence. The kind of person who has a perfect wife and perfect children who got good grades, got along with each other and always did the right things in their parents’ eyes. The kind of person who listened to his parents and other authorities growing up, was the example the coaches pointed to on the athletic field, got good grades, went to a good college, got a good job, didn’t smoke or drink, went to church on Sunday and lived a good and secure life.

Job was probably the envy of all who knew him, and he was probably insufferable because of it. It seems Job was righteous, at least compared to other people. Job was also righteous in his own eyes (Job 32:1). And that’s the issue: Job viewed the world through the lens of his own self-righteousness.

Job viewed the world through the lens of his own self-righteousness

Job reminds me of the kind of person who was good and proud of it. Job clearly believed that his goodness was the source of all the good things he accomplished and acquired in his life. Job believed in God, of course, like a good Catholic or Protestant Christian. Job would have been a good American, a self-made man, equal parts proud of good living and proud of the wisdom of his belief in God. He would probably be a proud patriot too, if he was alive today.

Scripture is clear, however, that no man is righteous before God. (Romans 3:10) None! Job may have been righteous compared to other people, but no one can stand up to God on his own merit.

Jesus eliminated all doubt on the subject when he said, “No one is good but God.” (Mark 10:18) To bring that point home, Jesus challenged the holy men of his day (men like Job) saying: it’s not enough to refrain from murder – you sin when you are angry at your brother, insult him and call him a fool (Matt. 5:21-22); and it’s not enough to refrain from committing the act of adultery – you commit adultery in your heart when you lust after a woman (Matt. 5:27-28).

Then Jesus really got down to the bottom line: if you really want to be good, then don’t just be just (Matt. 5:38) – be merciful and gracious and loving:

“[I]f anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” (Matt. 5:39-42)

If you really want to be good, then don’t just love your family, friends and people who are good to you:

“But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.'” (Matt. 5:44-48)

The statement in the first chapter and verse of Job, then, needs to be taken with a grain of salt. It isn’t true. It can’t be true, because we know that no man is righteous before God, but that statement sets the stage for the entire Book of Job. It isn’t meant to be taken as true, but it is the way Job viewed himself.

Job’s view of himself a a righteous man colored Job’s view of the world. His belief that he was righteous defined who he thought he was. He attributed all of his success to it.

As we will see in the next blog post, Job viewed others through the lens of his own self-righteousness. We see this in his friends who mirrored to Job the advice Job had given others. Now that the tables were turned, Job and his friends would come to realize how cold and hollow that advice really is, and they would come to see God in a different way.

We tend to think that all of the misfortunes of other people are brought on by their own bad decisions, bad actions and bad living, but that isn’t always the case. We tend to think our fortunes are the result of our good decisions, good actions and good living, but that isn’t necessarily true either.

What Is Man That God Should Take Notice?

Depositphotos Image ID: 31610845 Copyright: DesignPicsInc

We all know the story of Job. Job was considered a righteous man, as far as men go. He was a God-fearing man, and He was also blessed with wealth, a good family and abundance.

Then, according to the story, God allows Satan to destroy Job’s wealth, abundance and health. He lost everything, and he can’t understand why God would allow such a righteous man as himself to fall on such hard times. Job became the poster child of bad things happening to good people!

Job put on sackcloth and sat in ashes demanding to know of God why he was suffering such injustice. He counted all the ways he had been righteous and just, and petitioned God to know why he was suffering while men not as righteous or just as he were living in relative comfort and abundance.

Job’s friends tried to counsel him, but they didn’t believe that he was as just and good as he claimed to be. They, like Job, believed that God wouldn’t allow a righteous man to suffer as Job was suffering.

Job’s dilemma is our dilemma as well. We think that good people should have good lives and bad people should pay the price of their badness.  Only, it doesn’t seem to work out that way. It obviously isn’t that simple. We have a keen sense of justice, especially when we feel the sting of injustice close to home, and that sense of justice doesn’t seem to be fulfilled in the world we see around us.

Continue reading “What Is Man That God Should Take Notice?”

When God Shows Up

Stormy Road by Ken Gortowski


Job was a good, God fearing man who did everything right. He was hard working, conscientious and treated other people well. He was a good father and a good husband. He was a man of integrity with strong morals that he lived out; his word was his bond. Then tragedy and calamity struck. Everything was taken away.

Job naturally began to question God. Who wouldn’t! Continue reading “When God Shows Up”