I remember, when I was a little girl, seeing a sparkle on the pavement. I thought that it was a diamond but in fact it was just a piece of broken glass glinting in the sunlight. I didn’t know it was discarded glass and secretly wished I had found something that would be valuable. I picked it up and stuffed it in my pocket. I considered it beautiful. When I got home and really looked at it I discovered it for what it was. This page in Job has reminded me of this.
Job is wrapping up his argument to his three friends … and they will not be able to answer him.
He talks about his life as one that is blameless and upright – emphasising what GOD had once said about him (Job1:8). But this was quite a few chapters back!
Job keeps saying ‘If’ I had done this sin or that sin, then GOD would have had a reason to let me suffer, in essence agreeing with the friends. If he had lied, lusted, forgotten the poor, been unjust, greedy, selfish or unkind, put his hope in his wealth, considered other gods, rejoiced over his enemies, not been generous, had some secret sin or taken what he hadn’t worked for … then GOD would have had reason to do this to him. GOD would have the right to destroy his life.
He builds his righteousness on the fact that he never submitted to the ‘if’ of sin. His life is filled with not going to the ‘if’, instead it sparkles with his own righteousness. His argument is adorned with gems of good works that glint and catch the eye. Job has not succumbed to the temptations of these wrong things. He is blameless and upright. He has done so well … and GOD would not disagree with him either.
So why is this here? Is it not just another speech made by Job to prove his friends wrong? Not at all. It was clear that GOD had called Job blameless and upright at the beginning of the book. Way back in Job 1:22 it even says “In all this, Job did not sin by charging GOD with wrongdoing.” And again in Job 2:10 “In all this Job did not sin in what he said.”
BUT we know that there has only been one man that has ever walked the earth who was without sin and that wasn’t Job.
If we claim we are without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8
Indeed there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins. Ecclesiastes 7:20
Job may not have committed all of those obvious sins … but his speeches have revealed something else of his character. They have revealed something that has been developing in his heart. He knows he has righteousness because he has been the one checking himself for sin. He has a tick list that he has fulfilled. He has made sure that there is nothing in his actions that would be described as sin and so he knows that there is no reason for his punishment (how his friends would describe his suffering). He has earned the right to say that he doesn’t deserve what has happened to him because of his “blamelessness”. And there we have it, the sparkle that isn’t a diamond but is in fact a worthless piece of broken glass. Job has adorned himself, his ‘if’, with his own idea of being blameless, it has been created out of his own effort.
35 (‘Oh, that I had someone to hear me!
I sign now my defence – let the Almighty answer me;
let my accuser put his indictment in writing.
36 Surely I would wear it on my shoulder,
I would put it on like a crown.
37 I would give him an account of my every step;
I would present it to him as to a ruler.) Job 31:35-37
Towards the end of his ‘IF’ speech Job adds this little section (I love that it is in brackets – almost like an afterthought!). Job wants the Almighty to answer him. Job has given an account of all the good things he has done and thrown off the accusations of his friends only now to say that GOD is his one accuser. He tells GOD, if He is listening, to speak up for the suffering that Job has endured. Job wants the indictment, this charge or accusation of a serious crime to be put in writing, the reasons described and accounted for. When they are given he will wear them on his shoulder and put them on like a crown because he believes that he will receive a badge of honour for his amazing self-righteousness.
Job is either a brave or stupid man to say such things! But that is what self-righteousness does. It puts us in the elevated place looking down on all that is below thinking nothing can touch us. Job has revealed his pride. He has put his trust in his own works. He has unearthed what is really going on deep down inside him … and it is not pretty.
And so, without Job even realising it, he has crowned himself with pride. He does not need GOD to write it down for him, he has written his own evidence and created his own crown. It is an ugly crown, without any real worth or beauty. Job feels that he can speak to GOD in this way because he sits on the throne in his life and he is unaware that he has relegated GOD. When we put the ugly crown of pride on ourselves it makes no room for GOD or others to knock it off and replace it.
Pride told Job that he deserved better, but if you read Rachel’s last post (In disguise), you will know that we what we deserve and what we get are scandalously different.