Job’s Integrity—Who Can Imitate It?
“He will weigh me in accurate scales and God will get to know my integrity.”—JOB 31:6.
1. Why is it good to consider Job’s example, and what questions are raised?
JOB was confident of his integrity, so he welcomed examination by God. His example can be of great encouragement to us today, especially when Satan the Devil is trying desperately to break the integrity of all who are serving God. (1 Peter 5:8) Recognizing this, the disciple James said to “take as a pattern of the suffering of evil and the exercising of patience the prophets,” in particular Job. (James 5:10, 11) But who can imitate Job’s integrity? Can we? In what ways did Job set an example of integrity keeping for us?
2. (a) What does the name Job mean? (b) What was accomplished by Job’s integrity-keeping course?
2 The name Job means “Object of Hostility,” which he certainly became. But when Jehovah granted Satan’s request and removed the hedge of protection from around Job, nothing Satan could do could break Job’s integrity to God. (Job 1:1–2:10) Job thereby provided an answer to Satan’s taunt that he could turn anybody away from serving God. (Proverbs 27:11) By his integrity-keeping course Job was, in effect, declaring to the entire universe, ‘Satan, you are a despicable liar, because Jehovah is my God, and I shall keep integrity to him come what may!’—Job 27:5.
Those Like Job
3. Who was protected in heaven, and what questions were raised concerning him?
3 Significantly, the issue between Jehovah and Satan was a universal one, involving the spirit realm. There in heaven, hedged about by Jehovah’s protective care, was the promised “seed” by means of whom God intended to accomplish His grand purposes. (Genesis 3:15) Yet, when stripped of ‘the hedge of protection,’ would this one really imitate Job’s integrity? Would he demonstrate that a perfect man, as Adam had been, could keep perfect integrity to God? (1 Corinthians 15:45) Satan made preparations for putting this “seed” to the severest test whenever He would make His appearance on earth.
4. (a) Who became the principal object of Satan’s hostility, and how do we know that God removed his protective care from him? (b) What did Jesus provide for Jehovah?
4 Jesus Christ proved to be the sent-forth “seed” from heaven. He thus became the focus of Satan’s attention, yes, the principal object of Satan’s hostility. In evidence that Jehovah had removed his hedge of protective care, Christ cried out while on the torture stake: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22:1) Although keenly sensing that God had withdrawn his protection, Jesus, like Job, “did not sin or ascribe anything improper to God.” (Job 1:22) He imitated Job, keeping perfect integrity to God, and thereby proved that ‘there was no one like him in the earth.’ (Job 1:8) In Jesus, therefore, Jehovah God has a complete and everlasting answer to Satan’s false accusation that God cannot put on earth a man who will stay faithful to him under the greatest trial.
5. (a) What does Satan keep doing? (b) What did Satan do when removed from heaven?
5 Yet wanting still more of an answer, Satan keeps accusing Jesus’ spiritual brothers, who, along with Jesus, make up the “seed” of God’s womanlike organization. When describing the Kingdom’s establishment in heaven, the Bible says regarding Satan: “The accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God!” However, Satan does more than accuse, he mounts a hostile attack! The Bible explains that after his ouster from heaven, “the dragon [Satan] grew wrathful at the woman, and went off to wage war with the remaining ones of her seed, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.”—Revelation 12:7-12, 17.
6. (a) Who today spearhead the preaching work, and who have joined them? (b) What is Satan trying to do to all of these?
6 “The remaining ones of [the woman’s] seed” are Jehovah’s anointed witnesses left on earth today. They spearhead “the work of bearing witness to Jesus,” publicly declaring worldwide that he is now enthroned as King and will soon bring this unrighteous system of things to its end. (Matthew 24:14; Daniel 2:44) But they are far from being alone! Now a vast crowd of over three million people have joined them to form a united, worldwide, integrity-keeping organization. All these integrity keepers, too, have become objects of Satan’s relentless persecution, and their heavenly Father Jehovah takes delight in their integrity.—2 Timothy 3:12; Proverbs 27:11.
7. Why can we be confident in the face of Satan’s attacks?
7 Surely, it is sobering to realize that, as Satan’s vicious attention was focused on Job, so it is upon us who are trying to keep integrity to God. However, we need not be distraught. Why? Because “Jehovah is very tender in affection and merciful” and “will neither desert you nor leave you entirely.” (James 5:11; Deuteronomy 31:6) Yes, Jehovah will uphold us. “For those walking in integrity he is a shield,” the Bible says. (Proverbs 2:7) This does not mean, though, that Jehovah will not allow us to be tested. He will, even as he did with Job. “But God is faithful,” the apostle Paul noted, “and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out in order for you to be able to endure it.”—1 Corinthians 10:13.
When Under Trial
8. How can Job’s example benefit us today?
8 Job’s example of integrity can particularly be of benefit to us when we face severe trials. Job suffered so much that he wished to die and be concealed in Sheol, the common grave of mankind. (Job 14:13) Some today have felt similarly, saying that they could identify with Job when he was suffering so much. Perhaps on occasion you have felt that way too. Indeed, reading about his sufferings can be like receiving encouragement from a friend who has undergone a trial even more severe than our own. Knowing that someone else has endured, and understands, surely helps us also to endure.
9. How are we benefited by the integrity keeping of others?
9 Recognizing our needs, Jehovah has had the book of Job recorded to help us keep integrity as Job did. (Romans 15:4; James 5:10, 11) God knows that as one part of the body is dependent upon another so his faithful servants also need one another. (1 Corinthians 12:20, 26) Recall the recent “Integrity Keepers” Conventions attended by millions of readers of this magazine. Those who were there will remember how good it felt to be in the company of so many whose principal aim in life is to maintain integrity to God. What encouragement to keep integrity it was for those in attendance to know that the many thousands around them—while at their places of employment or at school in their own communities—were also keeping integrity under trialsome tests!—1 Peter 5:9.
10. (a) How might a person fail to keep the right perspective? (b) What did Job begin to question?
10 Yet we may not always maintain the right perspective, even as Job failed to do so. A person suffering greatly, and who is in a depressed state of mind, may say, ‘Oh, why does God do this to me? Why does he permit this to occur?’ The person may even get to the point of asking, ‘What’s the use in serving God?’ Not realizing the source of his suffering, Job questioned the present benefit of being righteous, since the good appeared to suffer as much, if not more, than the bad. (Job 9:22) According to Elihu, Job said: “What does it profit me? What do I gain more than if I had sinned?” (Job 35:3, An American Translation) But we cannot let ourselves become so absorbed in our own troubles that we lose proper perspective and question the value of serving God.
11. What fine correction did Elihu provide Job?
11 Elihu provided Job needed correction, setting matters in proper focus by pointing out that Jehovah was exalted high above Job. (Job 35:4, 5) Elihu showed that, no matter what happens, we should never conclude that God is uncaring and somehow reason that we can spite Him for what are considered injustices on His part. “If you actually sin,” Elihu asked Job, “what do you accomplish against him? And if your revolts actually increase, what do you do to him?” (Job 35:6) Yes, if you try to spite God by abandoning his ways or his service, you are only hurting yourself, not God.
12. How does our integrity keeping affect God?
12 On the other hand, Elihu showed that Jehovah is not benefited personally if we do what is right. Of course, God is delighted if we keep integrity, yet, at the same time, he is in no way dependent upon our worship, as was indicated by what Elihu asked Job: “If you are really in the right, what do you give him, or what does he receive from your own hand?” (Job 35:7) God gave us life, and because of him we breathe and move and exist. He owns everything! (Acts 17:25; 1 Chronicles 29:14) Thus our wickedness or our righteousness cannot affect God personally.—Job 35:8.
13. (a) How did Job react to the correction given? (b) What problem do all of us have?
13 How did Job react to the correction given, first by Elihu and then by Jehovah himself? He accepted it, repenting “in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:6) Yes, Job humbled himself, acknowledging his error. And do we not admire such humility? But what about us? Even though we may be stalwart integrity keepers like Job, all of us are inclined to make mistakes and become unbalanced in one way or another. (James 3:2; Galatians 2:11-14) What shall we do when our mistake or imperfection is called to our attention, even by a younger one like Elihu?—Job 32:4.
14. (a) What is a common inclination when a person is corrected? (b) What can contribute to errors or improper judgments, and what example did Job set when he was corrected?
14 It is not always easy to accept correction. (Hebrews 12:11; Proverbs 3:11, 12) The inclination is to try to justify ourselves. Like Job, we may not have intentionally said or done anything wrong. Our motive may have been good. But we may have spoken without full knowledge, with a lack of understanding or sensitivity. Perhaps our comments reflected an air of racial or national superiority, or a Scripturally unsupported rigidity on a matter. It may be brought to our attention that what we have said reflects more our own personal viewpoint and that it has hurt others to the extent of jeopardizing their spirituality. When corrected, will we, like Job, acknowledge that we ‘spoke without understanding’ and “make a retraction”?—Job 42:3, 6.
Trusting God, Not Riches
15. How do we know that Job’s trust was not in his riches?
15 Bildad called into question the object of Job’s trust, intimating that he had forgotten God and that his trust had been placed elsewhere. (Job 8:13, 14) Yet even though Job had been blessed with many material things, his trust was not in these. His integrity was not shaken one bit when he lost all his possessions. (Job 1:21) In his concluding defense, Job said: “If I have put gold as my confidence, or to gold I have said, ‘You are my trust!’ If I used to rejoice because my property was much, and because my hand had found a lot of things . . . that too would be an error for attention by the justices, for I should have denied the true God above.”—Job 31:24-28.
16. (a) What examination should we make of ourselves? (b) What promise does God make to those who trust in him?
16 What about us? Where are we placing our trust—in Jehovah or in material possessions? If we were weighed in accurate scales, as Job desired to be, would God get to know our integrity in this matter? Is our chief concern in life really that of providing Jehovah an integrity-keeping course with which to answer Satan’s taunts? Or are we particularly concerned with satisfying our desires for pleasures and possessions? How fine if we can be like Job and make Jehovah’s heart glad by trusting in Him, and not place any undue importance on ourselves or on the material things that are available! If we trust in Jehovah, putting his interests first, he promises never to leave us or forsake us.—Matthew 6:31-33; Hebrews 13:5, 6.
17. What insinuations did Job’s “comforters” make, but what did Job say about his moral conduct?
17 Job’s false comforters did not directly accuse him of sexual misconduct, but time and again they implied that he was guilty of some secret fault for which God was punishing him. As a man of means, indeed being “the greatest of all the Orientals,” Job surely had opportunities for extramarital sex. (Job 1:3; 24:15) Other servants of God, prior to and after Job’s time, fell to sexual temptations. (Genesis 38:15-23; 2 Samuel 11:1-5) Job, however, defended himself against any insinuations of such wrongdoing, declaring: “A covenant I have concluded with my eyes. So how could I show myself attentive to a virgin? If my heart has been enticed toward a woman, and I kept lying in wait at the very entranceway of my companion . . . that would be loose conduct, and that would be an error for attention by the justices.”—Job 31:1, 9-11.
18. Why is sexual morality so hard to maintain, yet why will we be happy if we do maintain it?
18 Perhaps by no other means has Satan been so successful in undermining the integrity of God’s servants as by inducing them to commit fornication. (Numbers, chapter 25) Can you imitate Job’s integrity by resisting all enticements to sexual misconduct? It is indeed a challenge, especially in this sex-mad world where immorality is so prevalent. But think how fine, when called to account, to be able to say confidently as did Job: “God will get to know my integrity”!—Job 31:6.
What Can Help Us
19. What is essential to help us keep integrity?
19 It is not easy to imitate Job’s integrity, since Satan today is trying just as hard to break our integrity as he tried to break Job’s. It is essential, therefore, that we put on the complete suit of armor from God. (Ephesians 6:10-18) This involves being aligned Godward, as was Job, ever conscious of pleasing Him in whatever we or our families do. (Job 1:5) Thus, Bible study, regular association with fellow believers, and public declaration of our faith are vital.—2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 10:25; Romans 10:10.
20. (a) What hope can sustain us during trials? (b) What reward for integrity keeping mentioned by the psalmist may we receive?
20 But what can especially sustain us during trial is what sustained Job—his confidence that this life is not all there is. “If an able-bodied man dies can he live again?” Job asked. And in reply he answered: “You will call, and I myself shall answer you.” (Job 14:13-15) Having that same absolute confidence that Jehovah will resurrect his faithful servants can also help us to face any test that Satan may impose. (Hebrews 6:10) Long ago, the Bible psalmist wrote: “As for me, because of my integrity you have upheld me, and you will set me before your face to time indefinite.” (Psalm 41:12) May that be the happy future of each one of us—having Jehovah uphold us and preserve us forever because of being his integrity-keeping servants!
Can You Answer?
◻ Who have proved to be like Job, and what comparisons can be drawn between them and Job?
◻ What can we learn from the way Job reacted to his trials?
◻ How did Job respond to correction, and what can we learn from this?
◻ What fine example did Job provide relative to material things and sexual morality?
◻ What can help us maintain integrity as Job did?
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Have you, like Job, ever questioned the present benefit of keeping integrity?