Introduction: This chapter contains Job’s final defense to his friends and to God for his misguided belief that God had unfairly judged him. Commentators observe that defense “has a clear connection to the Sermon on the Mount. ‘Chapter 31 is Job’s Sermon on the Mount, for in it he touches on many of the same issues of spiritual ethics that Jesus covers in Matthew 5-7, including the relationship between lust and adultery (Job 31:1, 9-12), loving one’s neighbor as oneself (Job 31:13-15), almsgiving and social justice (Job 31:16-23), and the love of money and other idolatries (Job 31:24-28).’ We are clearly told in Job 1 that Job was a blameless and upright man; this is the chapter that most clearly explains what that godly life looked like.” (David Guzik on Job 31) (citations omitted).1 Like Job, we are not made righteous by observing the Law (Gal. 2:21). But a believer in Jesus becomes a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17; Jo. 3:3). Jesus further advised that you will know a transformed believer through their fruits (Matt. 7:16, 20; 12:33; Lk. 6:43-44). One of the fruits of a transformed person is when that person voluntarily seeks after the “righteousness” that is part the Kingdom of God (Rom. 14:17). What are the signs of a person transformed through faith in Jesus Christ? Job Chapter 31 describes several signs. These include a life of: (1) purity, (2) integrity, (3) faithfulness, (4) kindness / compassion, (5) justice, (6) contentment, and (7) love.
First, Job swore that he had made a covenant with his eyes to keep himself pure. A transformed believer also seeks to remain pure and holy for Jesus. Second, Job also swore that he had not acted with deceit towards others. A transformed believer is also honest and acts with integrity. Third, Job further swore that he had not committed adultery. A transformed believer also remains faithful to their vows to God, their spouse, and others. Fourth, Job further swore that he had never mistreated any of his servants. A transformed believer is also kind and compassionate to employees and others under their authority. Fifth, Job also swore that he never practiced injustice or hurt the needy. A transformed believer should also seek to be a source of God’s justice in the world. Sixth, Job also swore that he had not given into greed or idolatry. A transformed believer should also seek to remain content with God’s gifts and free from greed or idolatry. Finally, Job proclaimed that he had shown love to his enemies, strangers, and desired most to have his fellowship with God restored. He was willing to be cursed if his vows were false. A transformed believer should also love others as themselves and love God above all else.
Job proclaimed his innocence of any charges of hidden lust. In response to his friends’ allegations that God was punishing Job for some hidden sin, Job stated that he had taken steps to keep himself pure and from misusing his power and influence to lust after others: “1 I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I look at a virgin? 2 And what is the portion of God from above, or the inheritance of the Almighty from on high? 3 Is it not disaster to the criminal, and misfortune to those who practice injustice? 4 Does He not see my ways, and count all my steps?” (Job 31:1-4). One commentator observes: “We now arrive at the climax of the peroration . . . Job fleshed out [his] statement [in Job 27:5] with a recital of the details of his virtuous life before God’s hand struck him. This is the ‘shun evil’ aspect of the description of Job that God repeated to Satan in the Prologue (1:8, 2:3). As stated before, because such was God’s view of Job, he must not be labeled as self-righteous when he spoke the truth, even though it was about himself.” (Frank Gaebelein, Elmer Smick, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 1, 2 Kgs., 1, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job (Zondervan Publishing House 1988) p. 990).
Job guarded his heart from evil by guarding his eyes2
Make a covenant with your eyes. Job made a covenant with his eyes because he knew that he was a sinful man who was susceptible to lust (Job 31:1). Solomon also warned about the temptations that come from failing to control what you look at: “Do not desire her beauty in your heart, nor let her capture you with her eyelids.” (Prov. 6:25). If you fill your eyes with evil, you will soon act upon it: “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matt. 6:22-23). Unchecked lust can overwhelm your decisions. “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.” (Ro. 1:24). The first look is not the sin. It is the second look or staring that leads to sinful lust. What are you doing to guard your eyes?
Fear the Lord to keep your eyes guarded. Zophar had previously alleged that Job could not hide his sins from God: “11 For He knows false people, and He sees injustice without investigating.” (Job 11:11). Job agreed that God was watching his every step: “For now You number my steps, You do not observe my sin.” (Job 14:16). “For He looks to the ends of the earth; He sees everything under the heavens.” (Job 28:24). Thus, Job guarded his eyes: “Does He not see my ways, and count all my steps?” (Job 31:4).
Filling your eyes with sinful things leads to even worse sins. David gave into his lusts only after staring at his neighbor’s naked wife Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:1-2). Likewise, Eve ate from the forbidden fruit only after staring at its beauty (Gen. 3:6). Satan uses the lusts of the eyes to entice people to engage in sins raging from pornography to adultery: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 Jo. 2:16). His goal is to destroy anyone who submits to him. “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” (Jam. 1:14-15). “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.” (Matt. 15:19).
Avoid places where temptation can arise. Part of guarding your eyes includes removing yourself from sinful environments: “If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.” (Matt. 18:9; Mk. 9:47). David had a choice to avoid his rooftop where he knew that he could see naked women bathing on their roofs. In contrast, Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph at work (Gen. 39:11). Joseph had no choice as to where he worked. It is normally never wise to be alone with a person of the opposite sex. Do you protect your heart by avoiding places of temptation?
Jesus came to raise the standards for sexual purity. Jesus did not come to repeal the laws against sexual immorality. Instead, He raised the bar on the type of conduct that He expects from believers. He stated that merely lusting after a neighbor’s wife is an act of adultery: “but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5:28). Yet, while exhorting us to even higher standards of moral conduct, Jesus also used the example of the woman caught in adultery to urge believers not to judge or condemn others who have sinned in the past and repented (Jo. 8:7). If someone you know has engaged in sexual sins in the past and repented, don’t use that person’s old sins to condemn them.
Temptation is a greater risk during times of prosperity and comfort. Job was the unique individual who did not give into his lusts despite being the most powerful person east of the Jordan River in his day (Job 1:3). David was at his best when he was threatened and forced to cling closely to God. In contrast, David’s greatest failures of his faith came during his times of success. During his times of success, he felt entitled to gratify the desires of his flesh and took more wives or concubines. This sin is not limited to men. Potiphar’s wife felt great power in her household. Joseph’s resistance made her long for him even more. Because her heart was evil, she (like Eve) longed for the one thing in her house that she could not have (Gen. 39:10-13). Satan will exploit any opening that you give him. If you let your guard down when times are good, Satan will entrap you. Do you allow success or times of plenty to cause you to drop your guard against temptation?
Make no provisions for the flesh. Paul warns believers not to embrace the things of the flesh as you may have done before you came to know Jesus: “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” (Eph. 2:3). “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:16). “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Ro. 13:14). “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.” (1 Pet. 2:11). “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Ro. 12:1). Is your body a living sacrifice for Jesus?
Put on the armor of God to resist temptation. Guarding your eyes and your heart also requires that you put on the armor of God: “The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Ro. 13:12). “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Eph. 6:11). “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,” (Eph. 6:13-14; Is. 59:17; 1 Thess. 5:8). Jesus has also left you with His Word as a sword against the devil. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12). Are you using each part of God’s armor against the devil?
Be pure for Jesus. God wanted His people to remain holy and separate from the unclear nations around them (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7). To keep His people holy and from turning their hearts away from Him, believers are not allowed to adopt the sexual practices of non believers (Lev. 18:1-3). When the Jews did these things, they “defiled” themselves (Lev. 18:24). Are you keeping yourself pure and holy for Jesus’ use?
Job proclaimed his innocence of any charges of lies or deceit. Job also denied that he was being punished because of alleged lies or deceitful conduct in dealing with others: “5 If I have walked with deception, and my foot has hurried after deceit, 6 let Him weigh me with accurate scales, and let God know my integrity. 7 If my step has turned from the way, or my heart followed my eyes, or if any spot has stuck to my hands, 8 let me sow and another eat, and let my crops be uprooted.” (Job 31:5-8). Job had previously swore that he was innocent of his friends’ charges against him: “Far be it from me that I should declare you right; until I die, I will not give up my integrity.” (Job 27:5). God in fact twice affirmed to Satan that Job was “blameless”, but not sinless: “The LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”’ (Job 1:8; 2:3). God also later condemned Job’s friends for falsely attacking his integrity (Job 42:7).
A transformed believer is honest in dealing with others. One sign of a transformed believer is the desire to be honest in their dealings with others: “11 ‘You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.’” (Lev. 19:11; Ex. 23:1-2). Stealing violates God’s Eighth Commandment (Ex. 20:15; Dt. 5:19; Eph. 4:28). Lying also violates God’s Ninth Commandment (Ex. 20:16; Dt. 5:20). Lies and deceit are among the six things that God “hates.” “There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: . . . a lying tongue, and . . . a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.” (Prov. 6:16-19). “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal faithfully are His delight.” (Prov. 22:22). Satan is the father of all lies and deceit. When you lie, you are under his influence: “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. . . . Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (Jo. 8:44). Are you honest in all your personal and business dealings with others?
Job had always acted with integrity in dealing with others3
A transformed believer acts with integrity in all his dealings with others. In Old Testament times, the primary means of calculating a fair price in commerce was with a scale. God’s people were warned that severe punishment awaited them if they manipulated the scale to increase their profits: “35 ‘You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement of weight, or capacity. 36 You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin; I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt.’” (Lev. 19:35-36). “13 You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. 14 You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. 15 You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” (Dt. 25:13-15). “You shall have just balances, a just ephah and a just bath.” (Ez. 45:10). “A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight.” (Prov. 11:1; 20:10; 23; Hosea 12:7). Persons who defraud consumers will also face God’s judgment (Micah 6:11). When no one is watching, do you act with integrity and honor God?
A transformed believer fears reaping the consequences of deceit. Job proclaimed that if he had acted with deceit he would “sow” the consequences of his actions by having his crops “uprooted.” (Job 31:8). The prophet Micah later gave a similar warning: “You will sow but you will not harvest. You will tread the olive press but will not anoint yourself with oil; and tread out sweet wine, but you will not drink any wine.” (Micah 6:15). Although the wicked may temporarily escape judgment, God will one day bring every act to judgment. Like Job, this should cause every believer to control their actions.
A godly person only speaks the truth. Solomon warns that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21) and that “a wholesome tongue is a tree of life.” (Prov. 15:4). “Your word is truth.” (Jo. 17:17(b)). “For He said, ‘Surely, they are My people, sons who will not deal falsely.’” (Is. 63:8(a)). “You shall not . . . deal falsely, nor lie to one another.” (Lev. 19:11). “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” (Eph. 4:25). Will you speak God’s truth to others, even if it might cause you embarrassment?
Job proclaimed his innocence of any charges of adultery. With a vow that placed his own marriage at stake, Job further denied that he was guilty of any type of adulterous conduct: “9 If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or I have lurked at my neighbor’s doorway, 10 may my wife grind grain for another, and let others kneel down over her. 11 For that would be a lustful crime; moreover, it would be wrongdoing punishable by judges. 12 For it would be fire that consumes to Abaddon, and would uproot all my increase.” (Job 31:9-12). The punishment that Job agreed to accept if he were unfaithful in his vows to God was the same punishment that the prophet Jeremiah said would fall upon Judah for its unfaithfulness to God: “Therefore I will give their wives to others, their fields to new owners; because from the least even to the greatest everyone is greedy for gain; from the prophet even to the priest, everyone practices deceit.” (Jer. 8:10).
Be faithful because God is faithful. Job was faithful because he made a vow to God. If you also stay faithful to Jesus during your trials, He promises you a crown of life: “Do not fear what you are about to suffer . . . Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10). “For the eyes of the LORD roam throughout the earth, so that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” (2 Chr. 16:9a). “In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.” (1 Cor. 4:2). Because God is faithful to you, you should desire to be faithful in your vows.
God’s blessings upon Job included only one wife. Because Job was righteous, he did not try to marry more than one wife. Job was a rare individual who did not become covetous of wealth, power, or women when he received God’s blessing. This separated him from Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, and most of the kings who followed them. They all took on more than one wife when they became powerful. The fact that mankind is so prone to covetousness may provide one reason why God will allow the faithful to suffer. It is better to cling to God in your trials than drift from Him because of His blessing.
Adultery is a capital spiritual crime. God’s Seventh Commandment prohibits adultery: “You shall not commit adultery.” (Ex. 20:14; Dt. 5:18). God’s grace is most valuable if you know what you have been spared from. Without faith in Jesus’ atoning death, the penalty for adultery is death: “If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, the one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” (Lev. 20:10). “If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.” (Dt. 22:22). For the unsaved, there are eternal consequences to adultery and sexual depravity: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,… nor the covetous,… will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Rev. 21:8, 9:21). “Outside [of heaven] are . . . the immoral persons and . . .the idolaters . . ..” (Rev. 22:15). For “. . flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 15:50). “For the mind set on the flesh is death . . ” (Rom. 8:6). Thus, “[i]f you live according to the flesh, you must die. . . ” (Rom 8:13). If you have engaged in any sexual sin, how have you thanked Jesus for what He has done for you on the cross? Or, have you used your freedom as a license to sin?
A person who breaks a wedding vow to commit adultery has a double death sentence. God warns those who have made wedding vows not to “swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God.” (Lev. 19:12). This violates the Third Commandment: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” (Ex. 20:7; Dt. 5:11). Because a broken wedding vow profanes God’s holy name (Lev. 19:12), the penalty is also death. “Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him.” (Lev. 24:16; (Dt. 5:11). Because adultery was already punishable by death, a person who breaks a wedding vow before God to commit adultery has two separate death sentences. The beginning of all knowledge is the fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7). Do you fear God enough to keep your wedding vows?
Job also declared his innocence of any charges of mistreating his servants. Job also denied that he was guilty of mistreating his servants, which included withheld wages: “13 If I have rejected the claim of my male or female slaves when they filed a complaint against me, 14 what then could I do when God arises? And when He calls me to account, how am I to answer Him? 15 Did He who made me in the womb not make him, and the same one create us in the womb?” (Job 31:13-15). Eliphaz had invented allegations of theft against Job (Job 22:5-11). Job agreed that a wicked person engages in crimes of theft (Job 24:2-8). But Job denied violating these rules (Job 29:12-16; 31:13; 16-17, 21). Job was instead a force of justice for oppressed and mistreated peoples (Job 29:14-17).
Job saw everyone as equal in God’s eyes, with everyone entitled to love and fairness4
God’s protection against the withholding of a worker’s wages. Improperly withholding wages or taking another person’s property is a form of theft that is prohibited under God’s Eighth Commandment (Ex. 20:15; Dt. 5:19). God was so concerned about the fair treatment of laborers that He mandated that employers pay their wages by sunset on the day each person works: “14 You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your countrymen or one of your aliens who is in your land in your towns. 15 You shall give him his wages on his day before the sun sets, for he is poor and sets his heart on it; so that he will not cry against you to the Lord and it becomes sin in you.” (Dt. 24:14-15). “The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning.” (Lev. 19:13; Jer. 22:13). These laws are repeated in the New Testament: “Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabbath.” (Jam. 5:4; 1 Tim. 5:18; Matt. 20:8). “And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.” (Eph. 6:9). If you mistreat those who work for you, you “taunt” your “Maker.” (Prov. 14:31). For the unsaved, the penalty for any theft is death (1 Cor. 6:10). Are you generous and kind to those who work under you? If you hire day laborers, do you pay them at the end of each day?
Do not take advantage of others or cause them to stumble. You should never take advantage of others or cause others to stumble in their walk (Lev. 19:14). Anyone who misleads others is cursed (Dt. 27:18). They also do Satan’s work (Matt. 5:37). Thus, a believer must make sure that he or she does not cause another to stumble: “[B]ut rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.” (Ro. 14:13; 1 Cor. 8:9, 13). Any time your mind is focused on your concerns as opposed to the concerns of God your flesh can cause others to stumble (Matt. 16:23).
Practice kindness and compassion. Job’s defense could be summarized by stating that he had dispensed God’s justice with compassion: “Thus has the LORD of hosts said, ‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother;”’ (Zech. 7:9). “Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32). Are you kind and compassionate to others?
Job proclaimed his innocence of any charge of victimizing the poor or the weak. Job also denied that he was being punished for victimizing or mistreating the poor or the weak: “16 If I have kept the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail, 17 or have eaten my morsel alone, and the orphan has not shared it18 (But from my youth he grew up with me as with a father, and from my infancy I guided her), 19 If I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing, or that the needy had no covering, 20 If his waist has not thanked me, and if he has not been warmed with the fleece of my sheep, 21 If I have lifted up my hand against the orphan, because I saw I had support in the gate, 22 May my shoulder fall from its socket, and my arm be broken off at the elbow. 23 For disaster from God is a terror to me, and because of His majesty I can do nothing.” (Job 31:16-23). Eliphaz had previously accused Job of this sin (Job 22:7-9). Job denied this and responded that he previously used his status to be God’s instrument of justice for the oppressed: ‘“14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a headband. 15 I was eyes to those who were blind, and feet to those who could not walk. 16 I was a father to the poor, and I investigated the case which I did not know. 17 I broke the jaws of the wicked and rescued the prey from his teeth.”’ (Job 29:14-17).
Be a source of God’s justice in the world. Under God’s law of love, widows, orphans, and those in need are entitled to aid and protection (Dt. 10:12-11:32; 1 Kgs. 17:17-24; Ps. 146:9). Thus, God calls upon believers to be His source of justice to the oppressed: “Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor, obtain justice for the orphan, plead for the widow’s case.” (Is. 1:17). “Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute.” (Ps. 82:3). “This is what the LORD says: ‘Do justice and righteousness, and save one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. And do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place.”’ (Jer. 22:3). “May he vindicate the afflicted of the people, save the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor.” (Ps. 72:4). “The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor; the wicked does not understand such concern.” (Prov. 29:7). “Arise, LORD; save me, my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.” (Ps. 3:7). This is also part of the definition of true religion: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (Jam. 1:27). Are you advocating for the oppressed and those in need?
Job proclaimed his innocence of any charge of greed or idolatry. Job also denied that he was being punished for greed or idolatry: “24 If I have put my confidence in gold, and called fine gold my trust, 25 if I have gloated because my wealth was great, and because my hand had obtained so much; 26 if I have looked at the sun when it shone, or the moon going in splendor, 27 and my heart was secretly enticed, and my hand threw a kiss from my mouth, 28 that too would have been a guilty deed calling for judgment, for I would have denied God above.” (Job 31:24-28). Eliphaz told Job that God would become his true gold if only he would abandon trust in his wealth (Job 22:24-25). God had blessed Job with great wealth (Job 1:3). But Job still put his trust in God, not in his wealth.
Don’t place your trust in your wealth. God wants you to place your trust in Him and not in your wealth: “This is what the LORD says: ‘Let no wise man boast of his wisdom, nor let the mighty man boast of his might, nor a rich man boast of his riches;”’ (Jer. 9:23). The psalmist warned against: “Those who trust in their wealth and boast in the abundance of their riches?” (Ps. 49:6). “For the wicked boasts of his soul’s desire, and the greedy person curses and shows disrespect to the LORD.” (Ps. 10:3). “ . . . if wealth increases, do not set your heart on it.” (Ps. 62:10b). Solomon learned from his mistakes that extreme wealth can become an idol that draws a person off their walk with God: “Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, so that I will not be full and deny You and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ And that I will not become impoverished and steal, and profane the name of my God.” (Prov. 30:8-9). Thus, “Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Truly I say to you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.”’ (Matt. 19:23; 1 Tim. 6:10). Do you place your trust in your wealth and intellect or in Jesus to get you through trials?
God’s warning against trusting in idols. Job also promised that he had not placed his trust in heavenly bodies, and he did not make idols out of them (Job 31:26-27). God warns against those who turn to astrology or other idols: “And be careful not to raise your eyes to heaven and look at the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the heavenly lights, and allow yourself to be drawn away and worship them and serve them, things which the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.” (Dt. 4:19; 17:3; 2 Kgs. 23:5; Ezek. 8:16; Rom. 1:25). Thus, you must never trust in any idol. An idol is not limited to a stove carving. It can include yourself, your wealth, or powerful people.
Be content with what God has given you. Greed, idolatry, and lust also stem from a lack of contentment with God’s gifts: “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.” (1 Tim. 6:6). “Not that I speak from need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” (Phil. 4:11). “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; . . .” (Heb. 13:5a). Are you content with what God has given you?
You cannot place your trust in both your money and in God. Jesus also warns that you cannot trust in both Him and your money: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matt. 6:24). When Jesus met a man who had followed the law but trusted in his money, Jesus tested him to see if he would be willing to sell his belongings: “Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”’ (Matt. 19:21). If called to do so, would you pass or fail the same test?
Job also declared his innocence through his love to others and God. Finally, Job made a general denial of other charges. In all contexts, he had shown love towards others, and he loved God: “29 Have I rejoiced at the misfortune of my enemy, or become excited when evil found him? 30 No, I have not allowed my mouth to sin by asking for his life in a curse. 31 Have the people of my tent not said, ‘Who can find one who has not been satisfied with his meat’? 32 The stranger has not spent the night outside, for I have opened my doors to the traveler. 33 Have I covered my wrongdoings like a man, by hiding my guilt in my shirt pocket, 34 because I feared the great multitude and the contempt of families terrified me, and I kept silent and did not go out of doors? 35 Oh that I had one to hear me! Here is my signature; let the Almighty answer me! And the indictment which my adversary has written, 36 I would certainly carry it on my shoulder, I would tie it to myself like a garland. 37 I would declare to Him the number of my steps; like a prince, I would approach Him. 38 If my land cries out against me, and its furrows weep together; 39 if I have eaten its fruit without money, or have caused its owners to lose their lives, 40 may the thorn-bush grow instead of wheat, and stinkweed instead of barley.” The words of Job are ended.” (Job 31:29-40). Job showed several kinds of agape love towards either those around him or towards God. First, he never “rejoiced at the misfortune of my enemy” nor had he “become excited when evil found him.” (Job 31:29). Second, he had shared his food with the needy (Job 31:31). Third, he showed love to strangers and travelers (Job 31:32). Fourth, out of a love for God, he was never a hypocrite who tried to hide his sins (Job 31:33). Thus, Job did not deny being a sinner. Fifth, he longed for fellowship with God and for God to hear his prayers (Job 31:35). Sixth, he pleaded in faith for God to redeem him in the face of the “indictment” brought by his “adversary,” (Job 31:35). Finally, because he valued most his relationship with God, he asked to be cursed if he had spoken falsely in his defense (Job 31:38-40).
Show love to those who hurt you and those in need. Job “put on righteousness.” (Job 29:14). This was not self-righteousness. It was instead the righteousness of God. Job had God’s law of loving others written on his heart (Ro. 2:15). For this reason, he loved his enemies and helped those in need (Job 31:29-32). He further took no joy in seeing the wicked destroyed (Job 31:29; Ezek. 33:11). Like Job, Jesus commands you to show His love to others: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (Jo. 13:34). “And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God must also love his brother and sister.” (1 Jo. 4:21). “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matt. 5:44). Will you show Jesus’ love to your enemies and those who are in need?
Show your love for God by confessing your sins. Job also loved God. Thus, he did not deny being a sinner. He therefore stated that he would never try to conceal his sins from God like “a man,” a reference to Adam (Job 31:33). David’s willingness to let God expose his sins and his confessions of his sins is what made him a man after God’s heart: “I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not hide my guilt; I said, “I will confess my wrongdoings to the LORD”; and You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah” (Ps. 32:5). “One who conceals his wrongdoings will not prosper, but one who confesses and abandons them will find compassion.” (Prov. 28:13). If you confess your sins, Jesus promises to fully forgive you: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jo. 1:9).
Show your love for God by crying out for His fellowship. Although God had never left Job, he showed his love for God and his desire for fellowship by crying out for God to hear him (Job 31:35). Although he incorrectly believed that God had abandoned him, he cried out throughout his trials: “Behold, I cry, ‘Violence!’ but I get no answer; I shout for help, but there is no justice.” (Job 19:7). “I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me; I stand up, and You turn Your attention against me.” (Job 30:20).
Show God that your love for Him is greater than everything else. Moses summarized the Ten Commandments with the command to love God: “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Dt. 6:5). Jesus stated this as the greatest of the Ten Commandments: “And He said to him, ‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”’ (Matt. 22:37). Job understood this. Thus, he was willing to give up everything to be redeemed of the enemy’s charges against him and have his fellowship restored (Job 31:35-40). Job would soon learn that he had to lose everything in order to find a deeper relationship where he fully trusted God: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, this is the one who will save it.” (Lk. 9:24).
Your love for God requires submission. One commentator observes: “The last three Hebrew words announce that we will hear no more from Job, except for his brief response to the divine challenges of chap. 38-41. The reader can judge whether ‘Job did not sin in what he said’ (1:10). This writer tilts toward acquittal even after twenty-eight chapters of debate, anger, frustration, charges, and countercharges. Neither his grievous circumstances nor his unsympathetic friends with their tightly knit orthodox theology of retribution could persuade the man from Uz that he was anything other than a righteous man.” (Robert Alden, The New American Commentary, Vol. 11, Job (B&H Publishing Group 1993) p. 311). But Job would ultimately repent (Job 42:5-6). Job’s sin was to assume that God had treated him unfairly and to demand an explanation from God.