Why Do You Serve God?
Do you desire the GIFTS or the GIVER? What circumstances in life could destroy your faith? Loss of wealth? Death of loved ones? Poor health? Being persecuted?
The book of Job is about faith. It is the story of a man chosen to experience a devastating trial of his faith. The author of Job gives us a glimpse behind the scenes. We, as readers, are entrusted with information hidden from the actors. They must play their roles in this story without insight that could radically affect the nature of their responses. Yet, it is important that they are deprived of it. Job is the greatest man of his time. Wealthy and influential, he is also godly and righteous. God is proud of his servant and brags about him to Satan. "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil" (Job 1: 8). Satan's slanderous response contends that the only reason Job (or anyone else for that matter) serves God is because they are bribed to do so by gifts. Take away the gifts, and he will curse the Giver. Is He worthy simply because of who He is? Or must He pay us to serve Him? God accepts the challenge. Job's response will either vindicate God or add credence to Satan's insult.
Now many of you know how the story goes for Job, but to illustrate a point I’ll quickly summarize. Satan then is given permission to strip Job of his possessions, but not to touch him. Tragic news comes running in like a whirlwind, where he is told of the loss of all his possessions and, worst of all, his ten children. Bankrupt and childless all in the same day, Job falls on his face in grief, not to curse, but to worship. Job didn't curse or charge God with wrongdoing. As we are allowed another peek behind the scenes, we find God again bragging about Job to Satan. Satan is still unconvinced. The first test wasn't tough enough. If only he could attack Job's health, he could prove his point. That would make Job quit. Satan is granted permission to take Job's health, but not his life.
Job quickly finds his body dealing with excruciating pain. Boils cover him from head to foot. He rejects his wife's urgings to give up on God and be through with Him. He tells her that such talk is foolish. Rather than pushing God away, Job clings tighter. Job’s friends bring their comfort that soon degenerates into bitter debate and insult. They contend that God follows strict rules in governing this world. They say that God rewards good behavior and punishes the wicked. They are convinced (as are so many of us today) that a man's standing with God can be discerned by observing his physical circumstances. If he would only confess his sin, God could again bless him. Through all the debate with his friends, Job continues to maintain his innocence. He knows he has done nothing to deserve what he is experiencing. But Job does eventually shout, "Why me? What have I done?"
What will Job do when he loses every reason to believe in God's goodness? Job desperately wants answers to his questions (as do we when faced with suffering). We often believe that if God would just appear and tell us why we are suffering, we could somehow wrap our mind around enduring it, right? Eventually God does appear, but not to answer Job's questions.
Instead, by means of a science quiz (chapters 38-39), Job becomes convinced that his knowledge of the physical universe is so inadequate, that he is certainly in no position to sit in judgment of God or to fairly evaluate how well He is running the moral universe.
The lesson Job needed to learn (as do we) was that man just doesn't have ALL the facts. We are in no position to put God on trial. Job shuts-up. However, God isn't interested in Job's silence. He wants his trust. Job is never explained his suffering. Yet, he goes away satisfied. He decides that he will continue to serve God, despite his circumstances. He will continue to trust Him, even when there seems to be no reason to (and perhaps even good reasons not to).
Whenever tragedy comes into our lives, our reaction reveals our motive in serving God. It either shows that our real interest is in Him, or that our real interest is in what He gives us. Is He worthy of our praise and worship even without His gifts? The issue here is bigger than the nature of "suffering." It is the issue of "faith." Your reaction to adversity reveals whether you agree with Job or with Satan.
Why do you serve God?