What does it say?
This passage continues Job’s final rebuttal. By this time, everything sounds very familiar. Job’s accusers have no more to say. Before Job also grows weary of speaking, he summarizes his case. In Job 29 he describes the good life that earned him honor and respect before his calamity hit. Job 30 vividly expresses once more his present agony. Finally, Job 31 is a detailed and passionate personal testimony of his righteousness.
What does it mean?
Have you ever been involved in an argument that goes on and on, and yet neither party convinces the other? I sometimes just want to shout, “Stop!” Countless words fly from one side to the other, and yet nothing is accomplished.
God allowed the diabolic attack on Job. Since then, we have observed the way four religious men, Job and his three friends, have handled the situation. What could be God’s message by including this in the Bible – the first book, no less?
The prophetic portrait of suffering, for Christ and his followers, is an obvious meaning. Perhaps less obvious is that God’s plans are not greatly advanced by believers tossing truth at each other out of context. We should also observe that Job’s impassioned defense of his righteous life fails to convince, and less so the more he repeats it. How much time do professed believers spend attacking and criticizing each other, while simultaneously proclaiming their own righteousness, instead of simply engaging in the true mission of making God known to those who have yet to meet him?
Perhaps we should leave our defense to God and let our lives speak for themselves. Rather than attack each other, maybe we should learn to fulfill the Great Commission by living the Great Commandment, learning to love God, others and the world. Timothy Keller said, “Nothing is more important than to learn how to maintain a life of purpose in the midst of painful adversity.”
How will I respond?
If I were in Job’s tragic position, how would I want others to respond? Do I know someone hurting terribly? Will I respond to this person the way I would want to be treated? I can at least think through exactly what I would or would not say if in the presence of someone who has just suffered great tragedy. What is the most important lesson that I have learned here about loving God and others and sharing my faith?