Job 9:4 “God is wise in heart and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered?”
When examining the principles necessary for prospering in life, the pathway has been so convoluted by the world it can easily be overlooked. The book of Job provides good examples for both exceeding and failing in life.
Early in the book of Job we witness this man having great success. Listen to how he is described:
Job 1:2-3 “There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.”
To be considered “greatest of all people of the east”, was a title that must have brought fame, fortune, and respect. Job’s name was undoubtedly known far and wide and so the events that occurred would have been retold by thousands.
One day when satan approached God, it was the Lord who directed satan’s attention towards Job. “Have you considered my servant Job?” was the question and satan’s answer was “Does Job fear God for no reason?”, then satan proceeded to list the ways God had blessed him.
Job’s prosperity came from God.
Satan challenged God’s position with Job and declared that if God would reach out His hand and curse everything he has, Job would curse God. Satan believed that Job’s success was only propped up by God’s favor.
Job 1:12 “And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.”
Job’s prosperity was about to take a sudden turn. God did not bring attention to this man for no reason, He had a plan and purpose for Job’s life and satan was only a pawn in God’s greater scheme.
As satan inflicted harm to Job, the trouble that befell him must have seemed supernatural. Anyone could have drawn a conclusion that God was somehow involved, but the conclusions to the questions of why God allowed this to happen would have remained.
The way we respond to prosperity or hardship reveals character.
The calamity that befell Job was more than most people would be able to endure. I find it interesting in how Job initially responded to the death of his children and loss of his wealth.
Job 1:20 “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.”
The shaving of the head and tearing of the robe demonstrated Job’s great sorrow. In the midst of his sorrow, Job humbled himself and worshipped the Lord.
Success isn’t just demonstrated by showing increased wealth, prospering is much deeper than acquiring goods or having many children. Job showed that his priority was first to honor the Lord, whether in plenty or in want he knew God remained good.
We witness the strength of Job in his prayer.
Job 1:21 “And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Have you ever wondered why a declaration is made about God’s name? Blessed be His name….I’ve sung songs with this phrase repeatedly and always wondered what it meant.
The term “blessed” in hebrew is the word Barak, it means to kneel or bless. When we bless the name of the Lord, we recognize Him as Lord and kneel before Him. Job was declaring that God was still sovereign and deserved his praise.
Many people might have grown bitter over such a tragedy, one that seemed unprovoked and without warrant, but Job continued to worship. How many people have hardened their hearts during calamity? Feeling justified that they didn’t deserve such treatment, they look to blame and God is front and center.
- Hardening of the heart is a good way to fail.
When we hardened our hearts we usually have an agenda, our agenda. Bitterness, distrust, anger, hatred, apathy, these all mark the one who sets themselves fiercely against God and looks to blame him for trouble.
- Tragedy reveals character.
Job 1:22 “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”
If only I had the strength of Job, his response takes a rock solid faith, one that has already been tested and proven faithful. Success in God’s world is founded on the measure of our hearts. The position of our hearts is revealed through calamity and in success.
Living through Calamity
After all the tragedies that Job endured, the Lord brought satan before Him and asked him a similar question as He did before.
Job 2:3 “And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.”
Satan then looked for another angle to incite God against Job and so the Lord took away His good health. Sores broke out all over Job’s body, from his head to his feet. At this point his wife encouraged him to curse God and die, and his friends drew near because of the spectacle.
As Job lay in sorrow and mourning, a striking response from one of his friends draws my attention.
Job 4:6 “Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope?”
- Living well is knowing where to place your confidence and hope.
When our outlook is found beyond this world and our hope is not dependent on success in this life, our strength extends beyond what loss can curtail. Job’s confidence was in God, knowing he walked in integrity gave him the assurance that he didn’t live contrary to God’s purposes.
- There is strength in knowing you live to honor the Lord.
Being a good man or woman is more than being considered a nice person. Being considered good in God’s eyes is to be made righteous through the work of God in our lives.
Job 4:17 “Can mortal man be in the right before God?
Can a man be pure before his Maker?”
Job looked forward to a coming Messiah, we now look back to the work of the Messiah with thanksgiving. When Jesus completed the work on the Cross, He made Job’s faith approved before God. When we rest on the grace and mercy that Jesus purchased with His blood, we rest on His perfection and can now live in confidence before Him.
If Job had rested in his laurels and demanded that God avenge him, he would have been countering the testing the Lord was doing in his life. The blessings Job received later in life may not of happened if his striving would have been after things he lost.
Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.”
When we look to ourselves and forget God is good, we set ourselves up for failure. When we strive to live our lives and on our own, we cease to acknowledge the One who has breathed life into us and we neglect the One who holds our future in His hands.
We cannot prosper if the lives we live are not real within.
Hypocrisy, or claiming one position and acting another is a good way to fall. You don’t have to search far to find someone who is disgusted by people who are hypocritical. Politicians have a long history of maintaining this quality as well as those who are self-righteous, acting as if they have succeeded in all aspects of life and yet hide the corruption behind closed doors. This state of hypocrisy is one I have known, and I can tell you, it is a miserable existence.
Job 9:31 “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but He does listen to the one who worships Him and does His will.”
Job was an upright man and his life proved this at every junction. This consistency of character is an attribute that should be highly prized among us. When Job cried out to God, God heard him but Job’s time of testing had not come to an end.
- Whenever we go through trial we should pray.
If it is our iniquities that have brought trouble upon our head, it would be wise to immediately repent and turn back to God. If God is testing us, we must endure faithfully. The Lord has a plan for us that we do not understand at the moment but the fruit of patient endurance yields great reward.
Walking in Integrity
Integrity in a person is to be found whole and undivided. Integrity is the opposite of hypocrisy. If you lack integrity, maybe God is taking you through a particular circumstance to develop this trait in you? Once you understand it’s value, you’ll want to hold onto it for the rest of your life. Job’s friends spoke poorly about God and so this time in Job’s life was a time of growth for them.
Job 42:7 “After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”
When God revealed their sin the expectation was repentance. When the Lord reveals to us our weaknesses, how will we respond?
Proverbs 28:6 “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.
The one who has been successful in life has developed a form of integrity that does not change with their circumstances.
Proverbs 20:7 “The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!”
Eventually God restored all that Job had lost and even more. More than the blessings in life that Job witnessed, Job inherited an eternal reward for his faithfulness. Countless people have read how Job dealt with adversity and succeeded, they were in turn encouraged by him.
Success as God defines it is what we should strive for, not success as the world measures it. Yes, God prospers His people but more importantly He grows us in godly character, and that is far more valuable than gold.