In Hebrews 13:7, we are exhorted to “remember our guides ..whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” And it is said of Abel that “he being dead yet speaketh” (Heb 11:4). Further, we read, “Ye have heard of the patience of Job and have seen the end of the Lord, that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy” (James 5:11). Since we know that we can learn great and lofty lessons from the inspired OT biographies, let us look at Job and study briefly his character, his conscience, his consistency and his conflict, and encourage our hearts in that “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rom 15:4).
(1) Job’s Manliness
“There was a man in the land of Uz.” We are all to be men, not in the macho sense that the world thinks is reality, but in Paul’s sense, “Quit you like men, be strong” (I Cor 16:13). Paul means that all these believers were to be manly in that they were to conduct themselves in a manly and courageous way. The Christian way is not the way of the weakling. For Solomon said, “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small” (Proverbs 24:10). Surely Job’s trials were great, but he did not faint. Again, Solomon is quoted, “Despise not thou the chastening of the Lord nor faint when thou are rebuked of Him” (Heb 12:5). Job could easily have fainted in the adversity, but he was a man, a manly man, courageous and believing in spite of the adversity through which he was passing.
(2) Job’s Maturity
“And that man was perfect…” This word does not imply that Job was sinlessly perfect or that he was without failure but rather that he was complete, lacking in nothing. David uses the words of himself in II Samuel 22:23.
When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he chided them because they were “babes in Christ”. At a time when they should have reached spiritual maturity, he was feeding them with milk and not with meat for they could not take the latter. They were victims of arrested, spiritual development, and the proofs of their carnality were in their diet and in their divisions.
In Hebrews 5:11-14, the writer wanted to tell them more about the Melchizedek ministry but was hindered for they had become dull of hearing. Instead of growing they had regressed, gone backward in the Christian life. They should have been teachers, but they needed to be taught again. They could only take milk when they should have been taking the solid food which belongs to the mature, those who on account of habit have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
So, are we growing, becoming mature like Job, or are we victims of arrested spiritual development like the Corinthians, or worse still, are we regressing like the Hebrews?
At the end of I Peter 1, Peter tells believers that they have been born again by the “Word of God”. In chapter two, he tells them that since they have tasted that the Lord is gracious, they will prove their reality by earnestly desiring the sincere milk of the Word that they may grow thereby (1 Pet 1:23; 2:3). He deals with five hindrances to appetite that must be laid aside, for hindrances to appetite with be hindrances to growth.
The Lord Jesus showed how important food is to a new life, for when He raised the daughter of Jairus, He commanded that something should be given her to eat (Mark 5:43). We must remember to feed our own souls and those of others.
Isn’t it interesting that all the verses we have read show us that the only means of growth is through the Word? There are no shortcuts. Do you have a systematic, disciplined approach to reading, meditating and studying the treasure which we hold and which is “God-breathed”? Start today!
Paul also deals with growth in Philippians 3. On his way to the Protected Mind in chapter 4, he has dealt with the Gospel Mind in chapter 1, the Lowly Mind in chapter 2, and here in chapter 3, he takes up the Mature Mind, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect (full-grown) be thus minded” (3:15). How can we reach this maturity? Paul grew because of a burning desire to lay hold on that for which also he had been laid hold. His was the striving of the race horse, stretching towards the goal. He had reached maturity in the Christian life because of his desire.
At the end of the Psalm 19, David prays, “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins: let them not have dominion over me; then shall I be perfect.” David wanted to be complete or, we would say, mature. May we have a similar burning desire to grow!
(3) Job’s Manner of life
“And upright.” Job was a straight man, for that is what this word translated “upright” actually means. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life…let thine eyes look right on and let they eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left. Remove thy foot from evil” (Prov 4:25-27). The sons were to take a straight, unswerving course. Psychologists tell us that we tend to move in the direction of our currently dominant thought, so that the way to stay straight is to think straight. When one begins to drive an automobile, the first thing he must learn is that he always goes where he is looking. So to keep the car straight, he must take a long straight look down the street or road. If you look at things to either side, you go in that direction. So to be straight, you must also look straight ahead.
In Acts 9:11, Ananias was told that he would find Saul, the new convert, in a street which is called Straight. Paul stayed for the course of his lifetime on that street. He expresses his desire to the Ephesian elders with the words, “Neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy” (Acts 20:24). When his life was over, he was able to say, “I have finished my course.” The race was over and Paul, with his eye always firmly fixed on Christ, had not deviated from a straight path.
Now take down your Bible and study the kings of Israel and Judah in 1 and 2 Kings. Find the straight ones. Why were they straight? Find those who deviated? What caused their failure? Job was a straight man.
(4) His Motive
“One that feared God”. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov 1:7). It is not the fear of His power and retribution, but a fear of displeasing Him; it is the attitude of taking a loving Father into account in all our ways. It is the attitude of Prov 3:5-6: “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” It is Abraham being directed by the words, “Walk before me and be thou perfect” (Genesis 17:1).
Fearing God and godliness are very closely related, for godliness is not really God-likeness but, rather the “piety which is characterized by a Godward attitude, doing that which is well-pleasing to Him” (W.E. Vine). In 1 Timothy 2:10, the word translated “godliness” is not the word normally thus translated; It is the fear or reverence of God. Of the worldly man it is said, “God is not in all his thoughts” (Psa 10:4). Of Job, it could be said that there was no thought in which God was not. This is godly fear, and Job was so characterized, for he lived under the eye of God.