looking through magnifying glass January 13 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Job 29, 30, 31

Evidence of a Righteous Life

Someone once asked the question, if you were accused in a court of law of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? What is the evidence of a righteous life? Is a Christian someone who goes to church? Is a person righteous if he is on time and gives an honest day's work? Is a person godly if he loves his family? Is a person righteous if he tells the truth? While these things may give us some indications of righteousness, Job sets an example which challenges us to be so much more as a Christian.

Job lived around the era of the patriarch, Abraham (more...). At one time Job was very blessed by God and respected by all men and women. In poetic fashion he described it as a time “when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me, when my path was drenched with cream and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil” (Job 29:5-6, NIV). What was the secret to his blessing? It was true righteousness. True righteousness and peace are found in a personal relationship with God (more...).

How was Job's righteousness expressed? He explains it this way:

Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me, because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist him. The man who was dying blessed me; I made the widow's heart sing. I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger. I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth, (Job 29:11-17, NIV).

Now, because this godly man lost his health, wealth, and family, he is mocked by even some of the most worthless of men and their sons, and his friends accuse him of wickedness.

This unfortunate man is also in constant pain from a skin disease. Job feels God has afflicted him and wronged him.

I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me. You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm. I know you will bring me down to death, to the place appointed for all the living, (Job 30:20-23, NIV).

Job appeals for justice and mercy from the God of all justice and mercy. He says,

Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man when he cries for help in his distress. Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor? Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness.

The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me.

I go about blackened, but not by the sun; I stand up in the assembly and cry for help. I have become a brother of jackals, a companion of owls [The NASB translates “owls” as “ostriches.” These are symbolic ways of describing his mournful and painful cries]. My skin grows black and peels; my body burns with fever. My harp is tuned to mourning, and my flute to the sound of wailing [his singing has turned to mournful wailing]. (Job 30:24-31, NIV)

Job then continues to make his case before God:

I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl. For what is man's lot from God above, his heritage from the Almighty on high? Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong? Does he not see my ways and count my every step? (Job 31:1-4, NIV).

In other words, Job realizes it is best to walk in the fear of the Lord and not give himself to wickedness; it is the righteous which are usually blessed and the wicked which are usually punished. One day, all people will be held to account for their actions.

Summarizing the rest of his argument, Job says in effect, “if I have been deceitful, committed some sexual sin, mistreated my servants, not shared what I have with the poor, widowed and distressed, or oppressed orphans, then I would expect punishment. If I have put my trust in wealth, rejoiced at other's misfortunes, or if I have not taken care of the needs of my household, I would expect God's wrath. If I have concealed my sins, or have mistreated the land or the tenants who farm it, then I could well understand God's judgment upon me. But I have done none of these things” (Job 31).

Job then appeals for justice:

Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense-- let the Almighty answer me; let my accuser put his indictment in writing. Surely I would wear it on my shoulder, I would put it on like a crown. I would give him an account of my every step; like a prince I would approach him (Job 31:35-37, NIV).

Although Job's statement may sound arrogant, clearly there is evidence of his righteousness. Because of this, he believes he has a just appeal to make with God. However, the LORD is Sovereign—he does not owe an explanation or usually give an answer for the troubles a person suffers. God has a higher purpose which Job knows nothing about.

His sufferings and his friends have broken him down, so Job feels he must justify himself and even shift the blame to God. Do we do this? Would we do it if we were in Job's situation? Probably. It would be better if we could learn to be silent and trust God. This would be difficult, however, if our health were suffering, and we were constantly mocked and harassed by friends and foes as Job was.

Nevertheless, as we look beyond Job's pride, what may we learn about evidence of a righteous life?

Lessons to Live By

  • True righteousness and peace are found in a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ (more...).
  • The evidence of a righteous life involves personal and practical holiness—living a life pleasing to God and reaching out to others with sympathy, kindness, and help. Job was in many ways like Jesus in his compassion and practical righteousness. We should be like Jesus to others.
  • Pain and suffering tempt us to blame God, but God has higher purposes which we may know nothing about (Romans 8:28).

Focus Verse

Zechariah 7:9 (NIV) “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.’”

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A Look Ahead: Those who hear others defend themselves may respond with Judgmental Pride. How can we avoid this and help the sufferer?

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