5/21/14 “Justifying Myself Instead of God” (Daily Bible Reading: Job 31-34)

“So these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job” (Job 32:1-3).

While Job and his 3 friends have been arguing as to the reason Job was enduring all of the suffering he was experiencing, a younger man Elihu has been sitting on the sidelines observing all of these things. As the opening verses suggest, Elihu was becoming filled with wrath as he was listening to them. He was so full of wrath he felt like he was going to burst: “For I am full of words; the spirit within me compels me. Indeed my belly is like wine that has no vent; it is ready to burst like new wineskins. I will speak, that I may find relief; I must open my lips and answer” (Job 32:18-20).

Was there a good reason for Elihu to be filled with wrath? I believe there was. He felt wrath because Job’s 3 friends found no answer, yet they condemned Job (Job 32:3). His wrath was kindled against Job because Job “justified himself rather than God” (Job 32:2). Whether or not Job had actually done so, Elihu felt Job was losing perspective as he was enduring his suffering. Elihu believed Job was more focused on showing his own righteousness, instead of proclaiming God righteousness.

I believe many of Job’s earlier statements show that he was flirting dangerously close to saying God was not righteous in His treatment of Job: “As God lives, who has taken away my justice, and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter” (Job 27:2). He accused God of taking away his justice. Job even began to feel like God was opposing him: "I cry out to You, but You do not answer me; I stand up, and You regard me. But You have become cruel to me; with the strength of Your hand You oppose me” (Job 30:20-21). In spite of what he felt God was doing to him, Job said he would maintain his righteousness: “My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go; my heart shall not reproach me as long as I live” (Job 27:6).

The question becomes: Why did Job want to maintain his righteousness, when he believed God had “taken away his justice” and began “opposing him”? I would suggest that Job was losing perspective. His focus began to be on justifying himself before God. Like all of us, his focus should have been on glorifying God even in the midst of his trial. Job’s focus became on justifying and glorifying himself!

I realize what I am saying may sound cruel to a man like Job who had suffered so much. I am not trying to be cold or unsympathetic to Job’s plight. He suffered immensely. I can’t even begin to imagine his suffering. My point is when we go through suffering there is a strong temptation to forget about all of God’s goodness towards us. Our focus can become upon ourselves and our suffering, and we can begin to fail to remember all the good things God has done for us. We can forget His love for us in sacrificing His own Son for our sins (John 3:16). We can overlook how he provides for our daily needs (Matt. 6:25-30). In our afflictions we can fail to remember all the spiritual blessings we have in Christ, such as forgiveness of sins, the privilege of prayer, the fellowship of our brothers and sisters in Christ, the guidance God gives us through His Word, and the peace we can enjoy when we place our faith and trust in Him (Ephesians 1:3). Today, I will strive to glorify God in whatever state I find myself and not try to justify myself!

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16)”.