Friday, January 9, 2009

Can I give a witness...

I have to be honest and admit that when I initially decided to begin this adventure of reading through the Bible in order of the historical occurrence of events, I failed to consider how quickly Job's sad story would surface.

Each day as I've contemplated his sorrows and suffering, I struggle to know what I should write. In chapters 17-20, Job is still in agony and his bullying buddies are continuing their hurtful, hateful, unfair attacks.

In 11th grade, I was accused of cheating on an advanced biology test by another student. Ugly indignation welled up inside when my teacher informed me of the accusation and asked if it was true. Apart from God's intervening restraint, I'm afraid I could have unleashed my own administration of teenaged justice on my accuser.

Mrs. Biology believed that I hadn't cheated. The following day, I moved to the desk directly in front of hers so that any future quiz would be taken within inches of her watchful eyes. Would you believe that I only felt moderately vindicated when I was the only one in the class who had a perfect score on the next test--even though my accuser failed it?

I've noticed that some people seem to give little consideration to their good name. For me, being slandered or back stabbed has always incited a degree of fury that I am not happy to acknowledge.

I marvel at Job's self discipline and restraint. At this point in my reading, I want to smack his friends for him! Instead of following such a ridiculous impulse though, Job continues to plead his case and confess his innocence. Throughout his ordeal, his focus remains steadfastly on God.

Job 19 records this confession:

25 “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. 26 And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! 27 I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!NLT

Only a man with unwavering faith in the Lord could make this statement in the midst of such suffering. Despite all that Job had endured, he didn't allow himself to be consumed with anger, nor did he waste time plotting revenge against his accusers.

Unfortunately, I've learned a few life lessons the hard way, including the fact that harboring bitterness, refusing to forgive, or allowing anger to fester until it results in sin is much more destructive to my own life than it will ever be to someone who offends me.

My prayer today is that like Job, my faith will compel me to care more about my right standing with God than my good name with man, and that I will never allow consideration of my own reputation to supersede sincere concern for my Christian witness.

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