- Religion and Philosophy
Job: a Model of Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control
I want you to test what I write not against public opinion and current fads but against God's Word. So each Scripture given is linked to the ESV website where you can read the entire text for yourself.
Job? Fruit of the Spirit?
Those two notions are not thought of together. We associate Job with suffering and often fault God for allowing the enemy to put him through such a trial. But I get ahead of myself.
Job is one of those mysterious figures in Scripture about whom we'd like to know a lot more. In the absence of hard historical data some speculate and others deny his existence altogether. Here's what we know. Ancient Judaism included the book in its sacred documents and associated it's writing with Moses. God delivered a prophecy through Ezekiel in which Job is regarded as an historical figure along with Noah and Daniel, Ezekiel 14:14,20. James identifies Job as an example of perseverance, James 5:11. If we take the Bible seriously, we'll have to take Job as a real person whose experience is accurately recorded in the book that bears his name.
Job was a wealthy and honorable man who feared God and lived well. He had a wife, seven sons and three daughters and plenty of cattle and land. God draws Satan's attention to Job. Satan commented, "Well, of course he follows you. Look at the sweet life you've given him." So God says, "Do whatever you want with him, but don't take his life." So begins a series of personal setbacks which leave Job alone, poor and suffering a skin disease that made him miserable but didn't kill him. Along come some friends who tried to console him. They sat in silence with him for seven days. That's the only thing they did right. Then one by one they spoke up telling Job that he woudn't be suffering if he'd been a better guy. They used a lot more words. Then God speaks up demonstrating that none of them knew what they were talking about. In the end Job receives back much more than he lost and his friends are made to eat humble pie. That's the short Frank version of the story.
You'll find the the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22,23. They are sometimes called the fruits of the Spirit, as though there were individual character traits that could be separated from each other. They are called fruit because they are organically produced by the Holy Spirit who indwells all who trust the Savior. Further, like fruit, they grow slowly and ripen gradually. While the gifts of the spirit (special abilities) may be distributed among God's people differently, all who are truly the Lord's have all the fruit of the Spirit to some degree. The fruit is evidence of Christian authenticity. Further, the fruit of the Spirit provides a character sketch of Jesus Christ himself.
Let's think it through together. He demonstrates love for his children in that he regularly interceded for them before God. Knowing that, in the exuberance of youth, they may have cursed God he rose early in the morning to offer sacrifices to God on their behalf. Joy may be a little harder to detect in Job, but if you realize that hope is an integral part of joy you'll find it in his confident expectation that his Redeemer lives and that one day he would meet Him. Job also experienced peace in the midst of his suffering. Though he expresses frustration that he cannot find God, Job acknowledges that God knows the way that he takes and that one day he will come out as gold, Job 23:10. A quick look at the comments made by his friends convinces the reader of Job's patience. It's not that Job was sinless. Only that he was not guilty of the accusations made against him by his friends. One can object to a particular accusation without claiming to be perfect. Job had a reputation for being "blameless and upright." That covers every dimension of the fruit of the Spirit, but particularly goodness and kindness. When his wife urged him to curse God and die we see Job's faithfulness both to her and to God. Again, while he disagreed with this friends and rebuffed their accusations, he never threatens them, revealing his gentleness and self-control.
Job shows that even in the midst of overwhelming isolation, loss and distress it is possible to maintain a godly disposition. He also shows that a godly disposition does not exclude speaking quite frankly to God about our sufferings. Job recognizes that the ultimate cause of his distress is God, so he appeals to Him for redress. This is important to ponder for there are some who deny that God ever causes suffering. But if He isn't in control of all the elements that bring about our ills, it would be futile to pray to him for relief. You can't have it both ways.
Yes, it ended well
Finally God himself speaks. "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man. I will question you, and you make it known to me." Job 38 Sixty-six question marks later, over the span of four chapters, God has hammered home the lesson, a lesson Moses learned in five words from the burning bush: "I Am Who I Am." Exodus 3:14
That it ended well doesn't take anything away from Job's virtue. After all, he didn't know at the time how it would end. God will always see to it that it ends well, we just don't know exactly how and when.
There is more!
There was another time when Satan challenged God to a duel. God forbade the enemy from taking Job's life. But this time God allowed Satan to attack his own Son, Matthew 4:1-11. Jesus resisted and as a perfect man, accepted the enemy's final blow, death. But it was only a "strike on the heel", Gen 3:15. By conquering the grave Jesus "crushed Satan's head." I Corinthians 15:54-56.
So Job points us to his and our Redeemer by his words and by his life. I'm looking forward to meeting this guy. I've already met his Lord.