I take this as a serious and sober warning to people with significant influence and respected standing in the church and community. Job was a good man. “Blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1). His fall from health, wealth, and family wholeness was not owing to an evil lifestyle.
Whatever remnants of pride lying in the bottom of Job’s glass of holiness, which God meant to expose and purge, he was a faithful man, no worse than you or I.
But he was prominent. Very prominent. He was utterly successful. He was revered by the young, and respected by the old. He had authority and great influence.
For example here is a sampling from Job 29:
- I was in my prime, when the friendship of God was upon my tent.
- My children were all around me.
- My steps were washed with butter, and the rock poured out for me streams of oil!
- The young men saw me and withdrew.
- The aged rose and stood.
- The princes refrained from talking and laid their hand on their mouth.
- The voice of the nobles was hushed.
- I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to help him.
- I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.
- My justice was like a robe and a turban.
- I was a father to the needy, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know.
- I broke the fangs of the unrighteous and made him drop his prey from his teeth.
- Men listened to me and waited and kept silent for my counsel.
- I smiled on them when they had no confidence, and the light of my face they did not cast down.
And God took it all away. He tested Job. Are Job’s successes — even his holy successes — his treasure? Or is God his treasure? That’s the question everyone of us must ask. And there is no reason to believe that God will not test any one of us just as he did Job.
When he takes it all away, will we love him more than things, more than health, more than family, and more than life? That’s the question. That’s the warning. That’s the wonderful invitation.