when I need an attitude check

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“If you mourn the fallenness of your world rather than curse its difficulties, you know that grace has visited you.”

(Paul Tripp)

Has a phrase ever helped you in an opposite sort of way from how the author originally meant it? Last month, some friends — who were mourning the brokenness of the world around them — shared this Paul Tripp quote, and it’s ended up being one of those kind of two-fold phrases for me:

  1. As God’s Spirit works in a Christian’s life we begin to more and more mourn for the hurt and pain of our broken world — as Jesus did — instead of defaulting to anger and irritation at the inconvenience caused us by the brokenness around us. God has used Tripp’s phrase to help me understand the sadness I feel when I see the thorns of this world. I think that’s how he (and my friends) meant the phrase to be read.
  2. But, God has also brought the phrase to mind in an opposite sort of way: when I sense I’m headed toward bitterness, stirred up with anger at my own current difficulties, I’m convicted by the phrase. For grace has visited me. The ugliness of my own self-absorption, and my default desire for “no thorns — flowers only!” does not honor my Lord.

When we’re just plain mad, irritated at the trials and complexities of life, our inner thoughts beginning to curse the difficulties of this world, we must fight to remember the grace poured out for us. When we realize that our desire for all things to line up perfectly stems from a demand that we’d only experience ease, we must question our selfish desire for comfort.

When we’re angry because we want to avoid all angst or unrest, we must fight to remember the grace we’ve experienced through Jesus Christ. We must call our attitude what it is: a pity party, a temper tantrum, a dishonoring of our Lord. As we call ourselves out, and pray for help, He does work within us, so that we might become those who mourn the fallenness of our world, rather than merely cursing its difficulties.

O Father, thank you that you don’t leave us as we are. You do use fiery trials, our own, and those we see all around us, to show us our need of you. Please, by your Spirit, work within us fruit that pleases you, that honors Jesus, that fears not to mourn, as He did, the fallenness of our world.

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Were you hired at the eleventh hour?

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“…And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’” (Matthew 20:9-15)

“…The parable focuses particularly on those workers who were hired at the eleventh hour. They were treated extremely generously, each receiving twelve times what he had earned on an hourly basis. Why did the landowner hire these laborers at the eleventh hour? Was it because an extra push was needed to complete the work? More likely, since Jesus was not teaching about Jewish agriculture, but about the kingdom of heaven, those eleventh hour workers were hired because they needed to receive a day’s wages. Laborers of that day lived a day-to-day existence. That is why the Law required land owners to pay hired men at the end of each day (Deut. 24:15).

This is the way God treats us. Over and over again, the Bible portrays God as gracious and generous, blessing us not according to what we have “earned” but according to our needs — and often beyond our needs. He has already blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3), and He promises to supply every temporal need, again in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19).

The truth is, we cannot “earn” anything from God apart from His grace. As Jesus said elsewhere, when we have done all that we are commanded, we should say, “We have only done what was our duty” (Luke 17:10). We have not obligated God or earned His blessings. Rather, all blessings come to us “in Christ,” that is, by His grace.

God, however, is not only generous with His grace; He is sovereign in dispensing it. We often speak of “sovereign grace.” In one sense that is a redundant expression. Grace, by definition, must be sovereign. The master of the vineyard expressed it this way, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with my belongings?”

Many are troubled by the apparent unfairness of the landowner. After all, it does seem unfair to pay one-hour workers the same as was paid to those who worked a full twelve hours, who had “borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” But the one-hour laborers did not think the master was unfair; rather, they considered him very generous. If we are troubled by the apparent unfairness, it is because we tend to identify with the twelve-hour workers. And the more committed we are to serious discipleship, the more apt we are to fall into the trap of envying those who enjoy the blessings of God more than we.

…it does seem unfair to pay one-hour workers the same as was paid to those who worked a full twelve hours…If we are troubled by the apparent unfairness, it is because we tend to identify with the twelve-hour workers…The truth is, we are all eleventh-hour laborers.

The truth is, we are all eleventh-hour laborers. None of us have even come close to loving God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. None of us have come close to loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22:37–39). So let us learn to be thankful for all God gives to us and not begrudge blessings He gives to others.” (from Jerry Bridges (1929-2016); read the whole article)

Painting: The Gleaners by Jean-Francois Millet, 1857

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Why did God create us?

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“God created me — and you — to live with a single, all-embracing, all-transforming passion — namely, a passion to glorify God by enjoying and displaying his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. Enjoying and displaying are both crucial. If we try to display the excellence of God without joy in it, we will display a shell of hypocrisy and create scorn or legalism. But if we claim to enjoy his excellence and do not display it for others to see and admire, we deceive ourselves, because the mark of God-enthralled joy is to overflow and expand by extending itself into the hearts of others…We waste our lives when we do not pray and think and dream and plan and work toward magnifying God in all spheres of life. God created us for this: to live our lives in a way that makes him look more like the greatness and the beauty and the infinite worth that he really is. …” (John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life)

“All your people will be righteous.
They will possess their land forever,
for I will plant them there with my own hands
in order to bring myself glory.”
“Yes, joyful are those who live like this!
Joyful indeed are those whose God is the Lord.”

(Is. 60:21, Ps. 144:15)

Related: A royal diadem in the hand of God?

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look at the light

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Look at the light and the shadow falls away.

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Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

(John 8:12)

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lures

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Satan’s counterfeits are many, and his mimics of true joy can feel really good. He sometimes uses pain to tempt us to move away from our relationship with the Lord, but just as often uses pleasurable substitutes: approval from other humans; power over other people; control over our circumstances; a life of ease.

How will we discern when a God-given enjoyment has really become a lure that would lead us astray from the Lord? And then, as we discern, what do we do? What must we remember when we’re tempted to settle for these deadly counterfeits?

First, what we fight to remember:

  • When you realize you’re headed off in search of human approval, you fight to remember this: Jesus alone stands as the Lover of your soul.  You no longer have to live in fear, performing for humans whose approval you covet.  Jesus is the ultimate and only-needed Approver.  His love is preeminent, and He’ll stay with you perfectly — unlike the humans whose approval you’re seeking — no matter what.
  • When you think you must (or begin to want to) control your world on your own, remember: Jesus holds all.  He will never forget you or fail you. He stands ever ready to intercede for you. He died for you. Personally. On the cross. By name. Turn to Him, gaze upon Him — not on the out-of-control situation you want to clamp down on in your own strength. When you work to control your world yourself, you never experience the joy of His being there for you.
  • When you have the urge to seek power for yourself in a search for validation apart from God, pray that you might instead lift your eyes to the Most Powerful. Jesus dethrones you. There is joy in that realization. Humbly bow and worship Him.  Your fear of not being successful or influential is meant to be swallowed up in a desire for His all-mighty Kingship instead.
  • When you seek comfort in order to hide or withdraw, pray that you would remember Jesus’ perfect love (which casts out fear of your crushing world). When you band-aid your pain with the tempter’s pleasures, going after comfort and ease, pray to know His supreme comfort instead. He frees from enslaving desires for comfort, and enables you to re-enter your world with purpose.

A little approval here, a bit of power there. Controlling the situation in my own strength. Withdrawing into my comfortable place. It all seems so harmless.

But, it’s so not.

What questions help expose whether the harmless something is really a lure, pulling me away from God and the true happiness I’m to experience in my relationship with Him? Here are a few:

  1. Am I choosing this “harmless something” because I’m trusting God? Or am I turning from Him?
  2. Does my choice of this harmless something bring glory, through my life, to God? Or am I really seeking glory for me, or comfort or power or approval for me?
  3. Would I be panicked, or angry, if this pleasure, in whichever form, were taken away? Is my anger really a clue that my idol (of power for me, or of comfort or approval or control for me by me) is being tampered with?

Oh Father, help us! Help us, convict us, give us wisdom! Give us powerful love for you when we’re tempted to settle for pleasurable substitutes, for lures, for deadly counterfeits.

Related: Blue hydrangeas and real hope, Armed against the tempter’s hooks, Even more beautiful.

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solemn lessons that lead to joy

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“All is shadow here below! The world is a shadow; and it passes away! The creature is a shadow; and the loveliest and the fondest may be the first to die! Health is a shadow; fading, and in a moment gone! Wealth is a shadow; today upon the summit of affluence, tomorrow at its base, plunged into poverty and dependence! Human friendships and creature affections are but shadows… “Passing Away” is indelibly inscribed upon everything here below! Yet how slow are we to realize the solemn lesson: “What shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue!”” (Octavius Winslow, 1808-1878)

Sobering words. Solemn lessons. A kind of solemnity we don’t hear much of in our modern world today. Solemnity, though, which leads to wisdom. Solemnity which leads to the wisdom of seriousness about our days, and to the right view of our smallness in relation to God’s greatness. The kind of soberness that faces, head on, the realization of the shortness of life.

Moses said the same, thousands of years earlier. He also said that this kind of soberness leads to awe — the kind of awe which fortifies  us, and ultimately leads to joy. Joy that stays ‘til the end of our life. Recorded for us in Psalm 90, Moses prays to God, and he begins with sobering truth about God’s power:

”Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God…a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night…”

Then, he points out the chasm of difference between us and God:

“The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty…they are soon gone, and we fly away.”

And because this is true, we need God’s intervention into our thinking about life:

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom…”

Moses finishes: As we learn to number our days, not taking for granted even our very breath, increasingly aware of God’s great Otherness, and our desperate dependence, we grow in another way. We grow in happy satisfaction, glad, sure of His steadfast love. And when we’re sure of His steadfast love, we become people who rejoice:

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”

So, yes, “Passing Away!” is indelibly inscribed upon everything here below. God means for us to bow to, not to run from, that truth. In our bowing, He means for you and me to want to, more and more, stop our pursuit of fading shadows. We don’t just need a change of thinking about our shortness of life — we need a desire redistribution. We need a heart of wisdom.

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don’t confuse spiritual gifts with spiritual fruit

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Spiritual gifts “are abilities God gives us to meet the needs of others in Christ’s name: speaking, encouraging, serving, evangelizing, teaching, leading, administering, counseling, discipling, organizing….Spiritual fruit are beauties of character: love, joy, peace, humility, gentleness, self-control.

Spiritual gifts are what we do; spiritual fruit is what we are.

Unless you understand the greater importance of grace and gospel-character for ministry effectiveness, the discernment and use of spiritual gifts may actually become a liability in your ministry. The terrible danger is that we can look to our ministry activity as evidence that God is with us or as a way to earn God’s favor and prove ourselves.

If our hearts remember the gospel and are rejoicing in our justification and adoption, then our ministry is done as a sacrifice of thanksgiving – and the result will be that our ministry is done in love, humility, patience, and tenderness. But if our hearts are seeking self-justification and desiring to control God and others by proving our worth through our ministry performance, we will identify too closely with our ministry and make it an extension of ourselves. The telltale signs of impatience, irritability, pride, hurt feelings, jealousy, and boasting will appear. We will be driven, scared, and either too timid or too brash. And perhaps, away from the public glare, we will indulge in secret sins. These signs reveal that ministry as a performance is exhausting us and serves as a cover for pride in either one of its two forms, self-aggrandizement or self-hatred.

Here’s how this danger can begin. Your prayer life may be nonexistent, or you may have an unforgiving spirit toward someone, or sexual desires may be out of control. But you get involved in some ministry activity, which draws out your spiritual gifts. You begin to serve and help others, and soon you are affirmed by others and told what great things you are doing. You see the effects of your ministry and conclude that God is with you. But actually God was E24FC18C-D312-4700-B70E-F4F98D32E33Bhelping someone through your gifts even though your heart was far from him. Eventually, if you don’t do something about your lack of spiritual fruit and instead build your identity on your spiritual gifts and ministry activity, there will be some kind of collapse. You will blow up at someone or lapse into some sin that destroys your credibility. And everyone, including you, will be surprised. But you should not be. Spiritual gifts without spiritual fruit is like a tire slowly losing air.” (Tim Keller)

(For a longer, excellent article on spiritual gifts, see this pdf of Keller’s Discerning and Exercising Spiritual Gifts. And related: How to turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God.)

”But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

(Galatians 5:22-23)

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on shaky-foundation days

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“When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
my grace all-sufficient shall be your supply;
the flame shall not hurt you; I only design
your dross to consume and your gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no, never, no never forsake!”

(How Firm a Foundation, published 1787, anonymous author)

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tripped up in a world where consumerism is a god

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Christian, what is the overarching goal of your life? And, in relation to your goal, what seeps in from the culture around you, confusing you, often in ways you’re unaware of?

If you live in a culture consumed by consuming, as I do, you need clear admonitions to keep your thinking straight. You need concise warnings — to pull you back — when your thinking about your goal becomes confused by the all-around-you pressure of the world’s standards. When you realize you’ve been tripped up by the behavior and customs of a world whose god is consumerism, you need clear reminders. Like these:

“Growth in holiness, from one’s conversion until one’s death or Christ’s return, must become the dominant narrative by which Christians live.

The goal of discipleship is Christlikeness; therefore, we cannot judge our growth or success by the world’s standards but rather by God’s. The question can never be, “Are we keeping up with the Joneses?,” but, “Are we looking more like Jesus?””

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

(Romans 12:2; and quote from Trevin Wax in This Is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel)

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set your mind on things above

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Today, set your mind on things above. Not that you don’t set your mind on things here. But that, while you move from here to there as your commitments require, doing this or that, you move through your day as a person whose heart is given to Jesus. You do so as one who moves with the assurance of a Lord who reigns over each step. You do so as one who whispers over and over: Father, glorify Jesus through me. Bring your kingdom here on earth in ways I may not yet see. Keep me mindful, this day, of the realities of the life to come; of the invisible realities I’m not yet able to see with my eyes; of your plan for the ages, now, even now, unfolding around me.

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory…Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him…Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives…And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father..”

(Colossians 3:1-4, 10, 16-17)

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pointers, both

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Sunrise, after a night’s deep darkness. Sunset, after a day’s scorching heat. Sunrise and sunset: relief bringers, both. Heralds of mercy, both. Pointers, both. Given to remind us that darkness lasts not forever. That sorrow lingers only a while. That joy, even as the daily sunrise and sunset, will arrive. It will.

The joy of all being made right — of sorrow flown, as the darkness at sunrise; of sighing relieved, as the heat at sunset.

Pointers — toward the everlasting joy to come.

“And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

(Isaiah 35:10 & Isaiah 51:11)

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once every day I shall simply

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This damp spring morning, the clover glistened. I found myself captivated. Thousands of tiny specs, dazzling, lay before my eyes. Green at its spring loveliest, crowned with glistening drops of misty moisture. Droplets suspended, balancing on each smooth leaf like rare jewels on tiny table tops. Droplets sparkling, like diamonds in a crown. Ordinary clover — the kind people ignore — made regal.

My human heart, earlier compressed by the day’s long to-do list, buoyed. And as I gazed, I remembered. I remembered the words of a man I never knew, but who I think of when I notice, and am lifted by, the majesty of a tree, or a mesmerizing sunset, or a patch of ordinary clover:

“When he spoke of the tree he saw on the way to class this morning, you wondered why you had been so blind all your life…His plea was that we stop being unamazed by the strange glory of ordinary things…”

He’d made resolutions:

“1. At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above and about me…

3. I shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event, filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities. I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parentheses in my existence, but just as likely ladders to be climbed toward moral and spiritual manhood…

5. I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.

E41E83A8-6DC0-4FAA-AD3A-0DA4600335136. I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic” existence…

9. I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead…try to live well just now because the only time that exists is now.

10. Even if I turn out to be wrong, I shall bet my life on the assumption that this world is not idiotic, neither run by an absentee landlord, but that today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course I shall understand with joy as a stroke made by the architect who calls himself Alpha and Omega.”

(John Piper’s recorded words of a beloved college professor, Clyde Kilby (1902-1986). This excerpt of Kilby’s words taken from Piper’s 10 Resolutions for Mental Health, Dec. 31, 2007)

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humbling yourself before life’s confusing mysteries

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I have a friend who carries extreme sorrow. She lives across the Atlantic, but last week I got to spend precious time with her. Now, this week, I can’t stop thinking about her. When I think of all she’s endured, and how she still loves the Lord in ways that encourage everyone she meets, I bow before the holder of life’s mysteries. (For we don’t actually humble ourselves before life’s confusing mysteries — we humble ourselves before the holder of life’s confusing mysteries.)

When I think of my friend and the intense grief she carries, I remember Job, his pain, his friends’ confusion, and his encounter with God, the holder of his confusing circumstances. And in my own life, when I face a new confusing mystery in the form of a new scary circumstance, and I try to sort through its possible causes, and its intended purpose for my life (Rom. 5:2-5, James 1: 2-5), I remember Job’s confusing catastrophe. You probably do, too.

But when we remember Job’s trials, we might, like Job’s friends, ask all the wrong questions.

We want to ask the right ones; and then we want to humble ourselves before the holder of the answers (I Pt. 5:5-7). Years ago, I posted excerpts from  an article that often helps me (when I think of my Christ-exalting friend who carries extreme sorrow, and when I face my own trials).  I repost those excerpts here, hoping they’ll help you, too.  As you read, pray the Holy Spirit will transform your mind and heart. Then, carry this truth with you — a truth we often miss about Job’s confusing catastrophe:

“… Job was a godly man. Both the author and the Lord himself make that clear up front (1:1, 8; 2:3). In fact, it was Job’s faithfulness to God that got him into trouble (1:8; 2:3). So the entire book must be read with Job’s integrity in mind. Even in his extreme suffering, Job never gave in and turned against God (2:9-10).

Job’s three friends were, at first, appalled by the catastrophic destruction of his life. They came together to comfort him. They wept. They sat speechless. They didn’t know what to say (2:11-13).

But after a while, they thought of plenty to say. Chapter after chapter, they went on and on needling him with insinuations of the deep dark secrets that must be there, to account for what had happened to him….

Job’s friends lived in a psychological world of crime-and-punishment. They probably subscribed to the doctrine of justification by faith alone. They were good theologians. Paul quotes one of them approvingly in 1 Corinthians 3:19. But the gospel had not yet softened their inmost moral instincts. So functionally, without realizing it, they reverted to justification by works alone. Job had to be guilty at some level, and was now getting his comeuppance. It never occurred to his accusers that maybe these events in Job’s life were part of a great battle being fought in the heavenlies.

Apparently, Job’s untidy realities were threatening their tidy notions, and they transferred their anxieties to Job as their scapegoat. After all, if God could body-slam Job for no visible reason, what might that imply for them too? But if they could successfully find fault with Job, then their glib moralism could continue undisturbed, they could go on feeling good about themselves, feeling in control, and they wouldn’t need to trust God with some extremely difficult mysteries in life. These three men needed Job to be in the wrong somehow, in order to justify themselves.”

… if they could successfully find fault with Job, then their glib moralism could continue undisturbed, they could go on feeling good about themselves, feeling in control, and they wouldn’t need to trust God with some extremely difficult mysteries in life. These three men needed Job to be in the wrong somehow, in order to justify themselves.

“To his credit, Job never caved to his accusers. He was not claiming to be a sinless man. He was only insisting that he had committed no sin that could explain the destruction of his life. His friends kept insisting there was no other way to explain it all. The friendship imploded….

Chapter 42 resolves the story. In verses 1-6, Job has his own moment with God, when he bows more deeply than ever before. He stops hoping for an explanation from God. He reproaches himself even for expecting it… So God accomplishes a work of renewal in Job’s heart. But God does not say to him, “Job, you know very well why I did all this. You sinned here, and here, and here. Remember?” God never joins with Job’s accusers….

In verses 7-9, God confronts Job’s friends. Surprisingly, God does not say to them, “You have not spoken of Job what is right.” God says, “You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” The debate was really about God all along. The real question was not, What kind of person is Job? The real question was, What kind of person is God?”

Hear that again:

The debate was really about God all along. The real question was not, What kind of person is Job? The real question was, What kind of person is God?

“… So God turns the tables on them. He commands them to take a sacrifice to Job, who will act as their priest and pray for them… Now we realize how important it was for Job’s three friends that he not surrender and agree to their accusations. When their day of reckoning came, they needed a true friend to stand in for them and pray for them…

So they humbled themselves and came to Job, and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer for them… I am guessing their hearts changed. I have a hunch that, for the rest of their lives, Georges_de_La_Tour_044they were more cautious, more restrained, more self-aware, as they formed opinions about suffering people….

The book of Job warns every one of us to be aware of our sinful inclination toward opinionated grandiosity… We see people suffering. We are tempted to blame, to stigmatize, to accuse. When that judgmentalism pours out of us in words against them, we risk sinning as Job’s friends did — speaking against God himself, oblivious to the real battle above.

When we ourselves are the ones suffering, and our friends betray us, our suffering intensifies with the added burdens of isolation and shame and loneliness. The Lord then calls us to forgive them, even as we ourselves have been forgiven for our many betrayals of the Lord (Colossians 3:13). Not that this forgiveness is easy. But it is the Lord’s call upon us. This deep forgiveness is internal to ourselves, way down deep, whether or not our tormentors admit any wrong….

The book of Job is intended to create among us a gospel culture of humble restraint, a readiness to trust and to comfort when we cannot understand why a friend’s life has just imploded… In it all, the primary question is always, What is God really like? Am I being fair, not only to this other sinner and sufferer, but to the Lord himself? Am I representing him truly? Or by my mercilessness am I becoming the photographic negative of Jesus?…” (Ray Ortlund in Job, broken friendships and reconciliation)

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Paintings: Job and his friends, by Ilya Repin, 1869, and Job Mocked by his Wife, by Georges de La Tour (1625-50)

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Jesus, remember me

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“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

(the thief on the cross, and me, and you)

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the Man that there was put to shame for me

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In Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian, now “merry and glad of heart” sings with joy after his burden has fallen from his back. Laden with his sin and grief, he’s come to the cross. He’s realized that here, at the place where God chose to sacrifice Himself, true happiness begins! This same joy can be yours. It really can! This Easter, look to Jesus! Linger near Him. Think on Him, on His taking the curse for your wrongdoing. Cling to Him. Cling to the Man who was put to shame for you:

“Thus far did I come laden with my sin;
Nor could aught ease the grief that I was in
Till I came hither: What a place is this!
Must here be the beginning of my bliss?
Must here the Burden fall from off my back?
Must here the strings that bound it to me crack?
Blest Cross! Blest Sepulchre! Blest rather be
The Man that there was put to shame for me.”

(Christian’s poem, in Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan, 1678)

“…Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. “

(Galatians 3:13)

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