“He is faithful and just to forgive … and to cleanse us”
Job 31 today is highly interesting; it is his final speech and in it he looks deeply into his conscience, reflecting on his motives for his actions. In doing this he uses the word ‘IF’ no less than eighteen times, saying if I have done this or that then I would be deserving of God’s judgements, i.e., punishment. There is much food for thought here!
“If I have walked with falsehood” (verse 5). “If my heart has been enticed toward a woman” (verse 9). “If I have made gold my trust’ (verse 24). “If I have rejoiced because my wealth was abundant” (verse 25). “If I have rejoiced at the ruin of him that hated me, or exulted when evil overtook him” (verse 29). “If I have concealed my transgressions as others do” (verse 33). “If I have not made fair and proper use of the produce of my lands “ (verses 38,39).
In this self examination, Job also makes other statements that add up to a challenge to us as to our responsibilities (in the sight of God) toward others. He says, “If I withheld anything that the poor desired, or caused the eye of the widow to fail, or have eaten my morsel alone and the fatherless have not eaten of it” (verses 16,17). “If I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing” (verse 19) and not looked after the traveller (verses 31,32). In some countries governments and organisations provides for much of this, but let us not use that as an excuse.
Job recognised that God would judge him for his failures to act and for having wrong attitudes; it was not just a matter of avoiding doing bad things. However, in the end because he was “blameless and upright” (1:1) and had spoken of God that which is right (42:7). Job is wonderfully blessed.
There are obvious lessons that all those who desire to follow in the way of Christ can take from Job’s words; but it is not a matter of justifying oneself, as though one can “earn” salvation by one’s own righteousness.
We should be motivated by a desire to come as close as possible to the character of Christ. Remember what we read in John last week – “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive … and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8,9).