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.

Sin, Salvation and Righteousness – God’s Plan for Us

Getting into some detail on basic principles of the Christian faith that yield rich and deep truths for the believer.


I set stage for this blog with the question, What is Christian Salvation and Why Would Anyone Want It? If you haven’t read that blog first, you might want to take some time to read  it. I set this piece up with my own story, but I am no different than anyone else who has encountered the God of the Bible and the salvation that He offers.

In this piece we will get into some detail on the meaning of salvation, sin that poses the problem for which salvation is the solution, and righteousness, which is, perhaps, more misunderstood than the other two.

To begin with, salvation means, generally, “preservation or deliverance from harm, ruin, or loss”; theologically, it means “deliverance from sin and its consequences” according to Google. Righteousness means, generally, “the quality of being morally right or justifiable” according to Google.

These definitions are simple and easy enough to understand generally, but they have very specific and nuanced meanings in context of faith that belie the richest and deepest of Christian truths.

Continue reading “Sin, Salvation and Righteousness – God’s Plan for Us”

God’s Righteousness for My Righteousness

Do not be ignorant of God’s righteousness, seeking to establish righteousness on your own.

Photo by Tim Butterfield

“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved for I bear them witness that they have a Zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:1-4)

Paul is speaking to the Romans of the Jews, but this message could apply to anyone who seeks to establish his own righteousness and does not submit to God’s righteousness. Paul had a particular authenticity to be able to say this about the Jews, because they were his people. He was one of them. He was not just Jewish, but trained as a Pharisee by the greatest of the contemporary teachers of the time and zealous for the Jewish law to the point of persecuting the followers of Christ (Phil. 3:6) – before he was confronted by the living, resurrected Jesus.

Paul knew something of the righteousness of his former life and of the righteousness of the Jews in his time. Their righteousness consisted of zealously keeping the law. The Pharisees, the protectors keepers of the law, were the people with whom Jesus had the harshest confrontations. He accused them of imposing impossible burdens on others, burdens that they, themselves, didn’t even keep. Primarily, though, they were attempting to establish their own righteousness in reference to the law.

Anyone who seeks to establish his own righteousness, by virtue of that fact, does not submit to God’s righteousness. Continue reading “God’s Righteousness for My Righteousness”

Let Your Light Shine Before Men

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said “Let your light shine”, but don’t practice your righteousness before men. How do we do tell the difference?

by Heather Russell
by Heather Russell

In the Sermon on the Mount (where Jesus spoke to His disciples, not the crowds that also followed Him) a couple of the subjects that Jesus addressed seem contradictory at first blush. They both relate on the surface to the way we act in public, before other people. He said, on the one hand:

You are the light[1] of the world…. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see[2] your good[3] works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14, 16)

Jesus, on the other hand, gave the following negative instruction:

Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 6:1);

Jesus went on to provide the following examples: “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:2-6)

How do we let our light shine before men without practicing our righteousness before men?

Clearly, “letting your let shine” does not mean “practicing your righteousness”. In fact, “your righteousness” is the problem…. We have no righteousness. Our righteousness is like filthy rags before God. (Isaiah 64:6) We have no righteousness before God, so if we are practicing any righteousness at all, we are practicing our own righteousness.

We may be better than other people, but not one of us is righteous before God! (Romans 3:10) Self-righteousness is what we display when we do things to be noticed by other people, but God is not similarly impressed.

When Jesus talked about letting our light shine, He was talking about letting the light of Christ shine. Jesus is our righteousness. (1 Corinthians 1:30) We do not rely on ourselves, but on the righteousness that God gives us freely when we let go of our own righteousness and accept the atoning sacrifice of Jesus to make us “right” with the Father.

The difference between letting our lights shine and practicing our own righteousness is not observed in what we, but in why we do it.  The difference is something that only God sees and can measure. (Psalm 139:2)

The heart/motivation of a person is the important thing when it comes to God and is what we should be concerned about as well. (Prov. 4:23) We should be continually on guard, checking always to be sure our heart motivation is right. Jesus, in effect, was saying, “Check your heart.”

But, we may not even accurately know our own motivations. For that reason, David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart!” (Psalm 139:23) David did not pray those words to be heard by people; he was crying out to God, “Help me!”

When we turn our sincere prayer to God, who sees everything and knows us better than we know ourselves, we are in the right position to let our lights shine. When our focus is on what other people think, we are not letting our lights shine; we are practicing righteousness, which means nothing to God.

When our audience is God, rather than man, our lights will shine, and God will be pleased. If our motives are to glorify Christ, our lights will shine, and people will be drawn to Jesus. When our motives are to follow, and honor and be like Christ as He instructs us to be, we are letting our lights shine in what we do, and people will glorify God.

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)

When God’s reward is our greatest desire, our lights will shine, and men will notice, but they will not so much notice us, as they will notice God. People intuitively pick up on our motivations. When we are looking for praise form others, people know it. When are seeking praise from God, people wonder what it is we are looking for because they know it is not the honor of men that we seek.

If someone is standing, staring at the sky, others will look up also to see what we are seeing. When our focus is on God, people should wonder what we are focused on and be inspired to see what we see.

When a light shines, whether it is the sun, or a candle, a lamp, a flashlight or something else, we do not notice the light as much as the objects that are illuminated by the light. The brighter the light, the less able we are to look at the light, itself, but the greater we are able to see everything else with clarity.

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Postscript:

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” – C. S. Lewis

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[1] 5457/phōs (a neuter noun) – properly, light (stressing its results, what it manifests).  In Scripture, phōs (“light”) is the manifestation of God’s self-existent life. See John 1:4-5 “In Him [Christ] was life, and the life was the light [phōs] of men. The light (phōs) shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 8:12: “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light (phōs) of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light (phōs) of life.'” (NASB)

God’s light (phōs) reveals His presence and preferences.  In contrast, darkness obscures God’s will and presence.  Through the light of faith, God reveals and shares His life which overcomes all spiritual darkness. We can not see things as they really are, unless God gives us light.  God’s light alone reveals reality so the Psalmist proclaims, “In Thy light, we see light.” (Ps 36:9) Phōs preeminently conveys the manifestation of God’s life (Jn 1:4) so believers can perceive true reality, through faith.  Without divine light, we would all be shut up to spiritual (eternal) obscurity.  Light is in Christ and emanates from Him (cf. Heb 1:3). We do not turn on a flashlight (or light a candle) to see the flashlight or the candle!  Light makes what is spiritual (eternal) become intelligible (“visible”).  God shares light so He Himself becomes visible to the eye of the soul.

[2] 3708/horáō – properly, to see, often in the metaphorical sense: “to see with the mind” (“spiritually see”), i.e. perceive (with inward spiritual perception). Horaō (“see”) typically refers to grasping the meaning of something through God’s revelation, i.e. perceiving on the invisible (supernatural) plane. Horaō denotes the physical act of seeing and connotes the mental discernment accompanying it. Horaō (“see”) implies comprehension – like in the expression, “I see what you mean” (“I see what you are saying”).  Horaō focuses on the mental and spiritual enlightenment that brings understanding, i.e. inner illumination that also implies “take heed” (give regard to).

[3] 2570/kalós – attractively good; good that inspires (motivates) others to embrace what is lovely (beautiful, praiseworthy); i.e. well done so as to be winsome (appealing).

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Whatever We Fix Our Eyes On We Reflect

I have found myself recently caught up in the torrent, reacting and re-reacting to the various comments, news clips and videos, like waves of offensives and sieges…

Flagstaff Mountain Flowers Philippians 4 8 by Chris Fraley jpeg


The world seems to be coming unglued! Militant, radical Muslims in Iraq are killing Christians, minority religious groups and even other Muslims. Hamas bombards Israel, and Israel responds with shelling that is killing women and children. At home, police decked out in military gear in a Missouri town are confronting an angry mob looting in the street and threatening to kill policemen.

Daily posts on Facebook and other social media demonize Barack Obama and “liberal Democrats”, or greedy corporations and capitalists, or Israelis or Hamas. The air is filled with ranting on both sides and all sides decrying every conceivable evil in the world. The cacophony seems to be reaching new heights. The many forms of social media make ranting as easy as shouting out the window to a world that is right within earshot.

I have found myself caught up in the torrent, reacting and re-reacting to the various comments, news clips and videos, like waves of offensives and sieges, until I began to realize something was happening to me…. Continue reading “Whatever We Fix Our Eyes On We Reflect”