Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 17 August 20:
Job 29:11-17, 21-25 — When the ear heard, it called me blessed, and when the eye saw, it approved, because I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to help him. The blessing of him who was about to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know. I broke the fangs of the unrighteous and made him drop his prey from his teeth…. Men listened to me and waited and kept silence for my counsel. After I spoke they did not speak again, and my word dropped upon them. They waited for me as for the rain, and they opened their mouths as for the spring rain. I smiled on them when they had no confidence, and the light of my face they did not cast down. I chose their way and sat as chief, and I lived like a king among his troops, like one who comforts mourners.
It is instructive to consider the quality and content of Job’s righteous life before he was incapacitated by Satan’s attacks. Job was admired and respected by all and was a successful, powerful, and influential man because he was a man of true wisdom who walked in integrity and genuine compassion. Job was obedient to God, spoke the truth, took care of people, and fought for what was right. Job had a genuine heart for others, and it showed in all he did and said. What seems to have been most noteworthy in the eyes of God was the countless early morning hours Job spent praying for his loved ones, a sacrifice for others done in secret. (Job 1:5)
One can contrast Job’s life with that of his “friends,” those “worthless physicians” and “miserable comforters” who had knowledge but lacked requisite compassion and humility; therefore, they lacked wisdom. As Paul said, “’all of us possess knowledge.’ This ‘knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:7) Job characterized his friends in much the same way Jesus spoke of the Pharisees – “whitewash.” (Job 13:4; Matthew 23:27) They looked good on the outside but were full of death on the inside. Job’s friends confidently lectured Job on spiritual matters, oblivious to the fact that their lack of compassion and careless words caused God’s anger to burn against them. (Job 42:7) “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.” (Proverbs 16:2) We must pursue knowledge, the knowledge of God, which is Love –
– Hosea 6:6 — For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
– 1 Timothy 1:5 — The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
– 1 John 4:11, 12 — Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
Job showed his love for God and honored God by taking care of the needy and defending the weak – he had a reputation in the community for being that sort of person. His credibility came from how he treated people. Do you have a reputation in your community for taking care of the needy and defending the weak? When Job was strong, he took care of those who weren’t. Unfortunately, when Job was weak, the strong around him did not take care of him in return. God expects Christians to display the love and grace of Christ by taking care of each other. Christian ministry should start in the family, but it should also extend from the family to the church and then to those who still need to know and experience the love of Christ.
Luke 21:1-4 – “Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’”
It takes both love and great faith to give abundantly, to give because you really have a heart for others and because you trust God to provide for your needs in the future. Hoarding is motivated by selfishness and fear, not trusting God with your future provision. According to Psychology Today, “For decades, surveys have shown that upper-income Americans … are particularly undistinguished as givers when compared with the poor…. lower-income Americans give proportionally more of their incomes to charity than do upper-income Americans…. ‘Empathy and compassion appeared to be the key ingredients’ in the generosity of the poor.” God’s people should have an abundance mentality and give generously whether they are rich or poor, since we all share in the immeasurable riches of Christ. True faith holds nothing back and trusts God completely to provide for the future. If you won’t give abundantly from what you now have, you likely won’t give if you have more later, nor can God trust you to be faithful with more if you won’t be faithful with little.
– 2 Corinthians 8:3 — For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means….
Sneaking a peak at Job 31, we read that people said of Job, “‘Who is there that has not been filled with his meat?’ [Because] the sojourner has not lodged in the street; [because Job always] opened [his] doors to the traveler.” (Job 31:31, 32) In his great love and faith, Job demonstrated a concern for even strangers which was inconvenient, costly, and risky. Figuratively speaking (or actually), how many strangers feast abundantly at your table? What does your love for others reveal about your God?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 17 August 20: Today, commit to using what God has given you, your wealth, resources, talents, skills, abilities, passions, and unique opportunities to demonstrate the love and grace of God and to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel. Pray for the love and faith to give in inconceivable ways as a testimony to God’s immeasurable grace. “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:40)