Job 20-23, Psalm 140
There is a tendency for us to overuse certain Christian words such that we can forget or distort their meaning. God's grace refers to God blessing us despite the fact that we do not deserve it. It is God extending kindness to us though we are unworthy. It is so easy to lift ourselves up in our own eyes and in our works and believe that we deserve the blessings that we receive. Inherent in this is comparing ourselves with others and elevating ourselves to the point that compared to others we somehow come out on top. Anyone can play this game in which we judge ourselves favorably based on our best intentions and judge others more harshly based on their worst actions. But when it comes to grace we must compare ourselves with God, not our fellow man. Doing this should humble us and we should see ourselves more accurately. We read in Hebrews 4:12-13, "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." For anyone who thinks that they stand strong and deserve God's blessings, when you read these verses and realize that He even knows our thoughts and motives, we should all be brought to our knees and see ourselves as the unworthy individuals that we are.
Eliphaz in launching his accusations against Job, not understanding the concept of grace or mercy, describes that Job is simply getting what he deserves, implying sins against Job to justify his comments. We read in Job 22:4-10, "Is it because of your fear of Him that He corrects you, And enters into judgment with you? Is not your wickedness great, And your iniquity without end? For you have taken pledges from your brother for no reason, And stripped the naked of their clothing. You have not given the weary water to drink, And you have withheld bread from the hungry...You have sent widows away empty, And the strength of the fatherless was crushed. Therefore snares are all around you, And sudden fear troubles you." Eliphaz makes the case, completely based on false statements, that Job is a wicked individual and is simply receiving what is due him. Implied in these comments is an element of self-righteousness that if Job were more like him and his righteousness, Job would be being blessed rather than being cursed. This is the self-righteousness that Jesus saw in the Pharisees that Jesus launched His strongest statements against in Matthew 23. Completely trusting in our works and what we deserve, Eliphaz concludes his argument in Job 22:23-25, by saying, "If you return to the Almighty, you will be built up; You will remove iniquity far from your tents. Then you will lay your gold in the dust, And the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks. Yes, the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver;".
There is such a tendency to trust in our own strength and in our own good works. Being "good" Christians when we receive certain blessings, we mistakenly believe that we have earned them or somehow deserve them. The problem with this way of thinking is that whenever we add anything to grace, it is no longer grace. It is never grace and ... . We deserve nothing and the sooner we realize that the sooner we will be in a position to be used by God. When Paul pleaded with God three times to remove the thorn in his flesh, we hear God's response and Paul's conclusion in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, "And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." Though we all want to hear one day in heaven, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord." (Matthew 25:21), on this side of eternity things may not seem to make sense. But as Paul did may we trust not in our own strength and works and somehow believe that we deserve anything. Instead, may we fully trust in God's grace, and though undeserving appreciate anything and everything that God chooses to bless us with.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: