Recently finished reading the book of Job, I have gleaned two significant principles from it and their implications for understanding my world, God’s operation in it, and for my work and ministry.
1. RIGHTEOUSNESS DOES NOT GUARANTEE BLESSING IN THE WORLD
This is one concept that I gleaned from my study of the book of Job. It is unquestionable that Job was a righteous man not only in the sight of people but of God too. Just like Job, many of us think that we are too good for anything bad to come upon us. We apply the simple principle of retribution in our life as though God had set on stone that he would do that. This is a very simple principle that many Christians adhere to. Those who have relied on this principle also have been easy to backslide. Having become a Christian and with a renewed body and spirit, we may be living a godly life and expect good things to happen. The life of Job shows very bluntly that this expectation is not always met. We honor God by living holy lives yet God is not bound to bless us on that basis.
As Christians, we are called to live a holy and righteous life depending on the Spirit of God. In spite of our godly choices, we may face unfortunate circumstances. However, we are in no position to question God’s authority and sovereignty. We are too small to understand God’s ways and his purposes. Our perspective is too narrow to understand his perspective.
2. SPIRITUAL WARFARE IS REAL
The topic of spiritual warfare is not a hot topic among Christians. Many Christians are living without a conscious knowledge that war between God and Satan is ongoing. The moment we accepted Christ and allowed the Spirit of God to dwell in us, our war with Satan had begun. He is continually attempting to snatch us away from the grip of God. He does that through the material world that surround us, through the lies that gratify us, and often times through success that blinds us. This warfare is even fiercer among Christians with a lifestyle of ministry and evangelism. Satan does not want to lose any soul to the kingdom of God.
Spiritual warfare may not be as dramatic as in the book of Job where Satan has challenged God, and God has Job as his prop. Spiritual warfare in this day and age nonetheless is still prevalent. The war with the principles of darkness is not a dated issue. It is real.
Both these principles that I gleaned from the study of Job gives me a biblical understanding of the world that I was devoid of before I became a Christian and studied the life of Job. The idea that righteous must be rewarded and evil be punished is a common and popular concept in most religions. If this does not happen, they find logic to get around it. In Hinduism, the good and prosperous life that one has is due to the good life he lived in his previous life. If anything bad should happen, he is still paying for the evil he did in that life.
Biblically, God made us in his image. We still have a portion of him that desires to do well and be good. Yet, the fall has distorted that image. Sin has affected us and the world. Hence, after receiving Christ there is a continual battle between the flesh and the spirit. Since we are the workmanship of Christ made for good works we strive to do good works, but Satan tries to work in our flesh. This is the spiritual battle.
Many times in ministry I have fallen in this trap of boasting that my prayer for a certain person is going to bring about miracles or that my righteous move will certainly please God and he will move a human heart to work in my favor. Too many times I have been disappointed with this attitude because that is not how God works. My Christ-like love and concern for a non-Christian will not always be rewarded by his coming to Christ. Neither will such love and concern move my Christian friends to live a revolutionary Christian life. The book of Job teaches me that just like Job suffered regardless of his righteousness, I will suffer in some measure. This is where the spiritual warfare comes into play as well. When I fail to win people over to Christ, Satan will make me feel defeated and doubt God’s power. I have struggled many times when my efforts have gone fruitless and found doubting God. Indeed, I have learned in my walk with God so far that Satan loves it when we feel defeated. This is the time I look at God and seek his strength and not feel completely defeated. God has his higher and better purposes that I cannot relate to or fathom.
As a Christian, I know that we have one life to live and eternity to face. The good or evil choice that I make now may not necessarily affect my present life but it does affect me in eternity. Thus, I do not stop doing good works because I do not see the results now. I certainly should not expect righteousness to be awarded. A righteous living is a not a choice, it is a command that we live regardless of blessings.