For what has God above chosen for us? What is our inheritance from the Almighty on high? Isn’t it calamity for the wicked and misfortune for those who do evil? Doesn’t he see everything I do and every step I take? Have I lied to anyone or deceived anyone? Let God weigh me on the scales of justice, for he knows my integrity.
(Job 31:2-6 NLT)
Job spends more time defending his righteousness before God based on his works rather than his faith. His friends too, also zero-in on this same common error – accusations of hidden sin must have angered God, leading to his just punishment.
Job’s lesson was to learn the art of abiding in faith, not to defend his works-righteousness.
The truth is, Job is being tested of one thing, and one thing only – his unrelenting faith in God Almighty, not his good works or perceived righteousness on earth. If you recall, God has ALREADY approved Job (Job 1:8), he has nothing to “prove” in order to earn God’s favor (that’s called grace!). Rather, Job’s lesson was to learn the art of abiding in faith, not to defend his works-righteousness.
How often we too fall into this trap! When we encounter trouble, disaster, or opposition, we are quick to defend our position before God and others based solely on our good works. Our petition to God tends to go something like this: “Look at me! I’ve been a good person! I’ve done nothing wrong! I give to the poor, I read my bible, I attend church, I think positive thoughts, and I even pray for my enemies! So why me? What have I done to deserve this? Have I angered you God? I’m being punished for some reason, aren’t I?”
Consequences exist to teach and train, while punishment is permanent, final and eternal.
Don’t mistake punishment for consequences. There are legitimate consequences to our foolish actions when they do occur, but punishment from the Lord is not one of them. Punishment is reserved for those who have rejected the Lord, not those who have embraced Him by faith. Consequences exist to teach and train, while punishment is permanent, final and eternal.
Romans 8:1-2 delivers the hope that only the Gospel can provide: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”
May we repent of our sin of defending our self-righteousness and learn to trust in the Lord by faith alone in Christ, in both the good seasons and bad. For you are promised freedom from punishment and brought to life in Jesus!