Friday, March 27, 2020

1 Corinthians 15:58

1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV)
[58] Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
I have been reflecting on 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 this week. Some refer to it as the resurrection chapter. I challenges believers to reexamine their own beliefs and actions in light of Jesus’ resurrection. The sting of death is gone. Death cannot hold us. There will be a day when we will be raised. There will be a day when, whether we are dead or alive, we will be changed. These perishable bodies will be transformed into imperishable, heavenly stuff that is no longer subject to the curse. But how should that truth change us? How should we live differently because of it?

In light of the resurrection, verse 58 uses two words and a phrase to explain how we should live. Notice that it does not say we should live recklessly. It does not say that this earth does not matter. It says first that we, as believers in Jesus Christ, should be steadfast. It is a word that indicates someone seated firmly in a chair. One source says it like this, “not given to fluctuation or ‘moving off course.’”[1] As believers the truth and imminence of the resurrection should keep us focused on eternity. The question that drives us should not be whether we have completed our “Bucket List,” but whether we have been true to God’s calling on our lives. Have we lived “with eternity’s values in view?”[2]

The second word used to describe how the resurrection should affect us is immovable. It means to be unmoved or firmly persistent. Fear too often drives us. With anxiety we lose our ability to think clearly and make good decisions. The result is the we are open to all sorts of flaky beliefs and ideas. It is in the peace that comes with an assurance of the resurrection that we are able to discern well and listen to the leading of the Spirit. The Corinthians, in their grief, had moved away from a sound understanding of the resurrection. This chapter calls them back to truth, faith, and peace.

With a final phrase believers are called to be, “always abounding in the work of the Lord.” The resurrection does not lead believers to hide away and hope for Jesus to come back. The resurrection leads us to serve. It calls us to super-abound in the work of the Lord. Why? Because with the resurrection comes reward. “Your labor is not in vain.” Setting aside our own will in order to serve others is the heart of God. Stepping into dangerous or vulnerable situations in order to serve or protect others is what resurrection minded people are willing to do. Giving up my peace and prosperity for the sake of those less fortunate honors our Creator. It will not be forgotten.

If, in this life only we have hope, then we might as well party, chase after our Bucket List, and get everything out of life we can, because this is all there is. If, on the other hand, the resurrection is certain because we serve a risen Lord, then let us serve. Let us super-abound in the work of the Lord. Here and now is not all there is. Praise God!

[1] Copyright © 1987, 2011 by Helps Ministries, Inc.
[2] From a chorus penned by Alfred B. Smith, who was born on this day (March 27) in 1916.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

1 Corinthians 15:56-57

1 Corinthians 15:56-57 (ESV)
[56] The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. [57] But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Over the past few days it seems that every one of my blogs have been about death, but they were not really about death. They were about victory and life. The resurrection of Jesus robbed death of its sting. The verses above go on to explain that more fully. “The sting of death is sin” (1 Cor 15:56a). It is sin that holds the world captive. It is sin that brought about death. It is sin that causes hopelessness in the face of death. Death is an enemy to be destroyed, but it is not the real enemy. Sin is the enemy. But what is sin?

“The power of sin is the law” (1 Cor 15:56b). We tend to think of sin as breaking God’s laws. God put the boundaries of the law in place and we view breaking those boundaries as sin. But that’s not quite accurate. The boundaries of the law were not put in place to find us guilty. They were put in place to reveal our sin. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The word for sin used in this verse is an archery term that means we have missed the mark. But what is the mark? It is the glory of God. God’s glory is the visible expression of his nature, character, and purpose. It is the outward expression of his greatness. The definition for sin, then, is not breaking God’s law. It is anything contrary to the nature, character, and purpose of God.

Adam’s act of rebellion in the Garden of Eden moved all mankind outside the nature, character, and purpose of God. The purpose of the law was to reveal that to us. Galatians 3 argues that the law of God was temporary. “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith” (Gal 3:24). It is in the death and resurrection of Christ that the power of sin was broken. The law was inadequate to break the power of sin. It could reveal it, but it could not deal with it. The resurrection releases us from the power of sin.

Galatians 2:20 says,
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Romans 6:4 explains that.
[4] We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Because of the resurrection, those who have put their faith in Christ have come to possess the very life of Christ. We no longer live by law, but “by faith in the Son of God” (Gal 2:20). By trusting Christ we were placed into his death and resurrection. We have been raised with him to a new life. The power of sin has been broken. The victory is found in Christ. That victory is available to anyone who will put their faith in Christ.

This is significant because it means that as believers in Jesus Christ, we do not just wait for our future resurrection. It means that we live each day in the power of the resurrection. Salvation is not just about forgiveness of sins and a promise of a future life. Salvation is also about a present power to live out the nature, character, and purpose of God in this life here and now. Eternal life begins the moment we put our faith in Christ. Victory is found in him. “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 15:57). These blogs are not about death. They are about life. May you find life in Christ.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

1 Corinthians 15:53-55

1 Corinthians 15:53-55 (ESV)
[53] For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. [54] When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
[55] “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

People were never intended to experience death. Death was the result of Adam’s sin. We were designed to live and rule. That is what makes death so painful. It is unnatural. It is against our nature. Added to that is the social aspect of our nature. We were created for community. Death robs us of those to whom we are closest. It is painful and unnerving, and it shakes our world. Death is not a good thing and never has been.

Evidence of that truth is all around us. People facing death do everything they can to hang on to life. They fear death. Those who choose to die or attempt to die often speak of their life as a living death or a living hell from which they want to escape. Biblically, death was the consequence of eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God warned Adam, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen 2:17). Death is the consequence of that action.

The good news is that while death itself has not yet been done away with, for the believer in Jesus Christ the sting of death has been taken away. Death is still painful. Believers still grieve. But we do not grieve with the same sense of hopelessness as those who have no hope. Speaking of the coming of our Lord and the resurrection of believers, 1 Thessalonians 4:13 says, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” He does not say that we do not grieve, but that our grief is not the same as those who have no hope.

Their grief is a grief if finality. Ours is a grief of hope and expectation. We don’t like to be apart from those we love. I remember the first time I went to camp as a young boy. I enjoyed the week, but the last day as we were anticipating our parents return I was suddenly struck with the fear, “What if I don’t remember what my Mom looks like?” That reunion was important. It gave safety to being apart. The fear of not being able to reconnect was what caused fear. Thankfully, I further reasoned that even if I didn’t remember what she looked like, she would remember me. That gave me peace, and there was an overwhelming sense of relief when I saw Mom and remembered her.

It is the finality of loss that is unbearably painful. But in Christ we have hope. That is why believers through the ages have been willing to place themselves in jeopardy for the sake of others. It is why believers value life. It is why we can experience peace in the midst of an anxious society. One day our perishable will put on the imperishable, our mortal will put on immortality, and death will be swallowed up in victory. Death is not the end for those who have trusted Christ. Don’t keep this Good News to yourself.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

1 Corinthians 15:51-52

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 (ESV)
[51] Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

The Corinthian believers had come to believe that death was so significant that it robbed their brothers and sisters of the kingdom after they died. Paul told them they were mistaken. The dead will be raised just as Jesus was raised. Now, lest they go out of balance the other direction in their theology, he reminds them that the Kingdom of God is not primarily in this world. Whether they live or die, they will be changed.

Just as there was a day in space and time when the Son of God became man, so there will be a day in space and time when the Son returns and calls us all up. “The dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor 15:52). What we do on this earth is important. We were created to be caretakers of creation and commissioned with the Good News of salvation. We will answer to God for whether we were good stewards of both, but there is more. The kingdom is more, as Paul wrote in the previous verse, because “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Cor 15:50).

The point of these verses is that death is, in fact, not all that significant. It separates us here on earth for a time. But it changes nothing about our future hope. My wife was gone for a couple weeks recently. In 46 years of marriage we have probably never been apart for more than two or three weeks at time. Death certainly changes that. In death there are no phone calls, no chats, no emojis to say, “I love you,” or “I understand.” But just the same, death is temporary. In the end the real issue is not whether someone died, but whether someone had faith in God to save them because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As believers our hope of eternal life is greater than the power of death. “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (1 Cor 15:51). “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor 15:26). But even before death is destroyed, its power and its sting has already been removed. Back in the 70s, Larry Norman sang of the resurrection of Jesus, “You can’t keep a good man down.” Jesus is far more than a good man. He is God, and his resurrection promises the hope of eternal life for all who believe. Death cannot stop that promise. Its power and its sting are gone. Live with that hope in mind.

Monday, March 23, 2020

1 Corinthians 15:50

1 Corinthians 15:50 (ESV)

If we have bodies in Heaven, why does Paul make such a point of flesh and blood not inheriting the Kingdom of God? The answer lies in the fact that the Corinthian believers had begun to believe that there was only hope in Christ as long as they lived. They knew Jesus was coming back to establish his kingdom, but they were still thinking from an earthly perspective. If you died, you wouldn’t see the kingdom. Paul tells them that just the opposite is true. The cannot see the kingdom unless they die.

There is a caveat to that later in the chapter when he tells them that they either need to die, or be changed at Jesus’ coming. But either way, they do not enter into the kingdom with this perishable body. Their perspective was far to narrow. They were looking for the kingdom, but they were thinking that it was an earthly kingdom. There is a now and not yet aspect to the kingdom. The kingdom is here now among those who are believers, yet the kingdom will only be completely fulfilled in the New Heavens and New Earth after Jesus returns. Still, at least they were looking for his return.

For many today, I fear that we talk about eternity, we hold to the promise of Heaven, but we live as though this life is more important. We live in the fear of death and the process of dying. We try not to think about it, but aging comes knocking at the door before we realize it. We live in the fear of losing control of our bodies and minds as we get older. We fear loss of mobility. So here we are facing a pandemic that has many of us stuck at home. We have lost our freedom of movement for fear of getting or passing a potentially deadly virus. We face loss or we face illness and possible death. How are we going to respond?

Are we going to maintain the earthly perspective that leads to anxiety and fear, or trust that even this is simply a part of that process of dying which precedes something better? Martin Luther, in a letter to John Hess regarding the Bubonic Plague, wrote that it is appropriate to “seek to preserve life and avoid death [if] this can be done without harm to our neighbor.” But he went on to warn, “A man who will not help or support others unless he can do so without affecting his safety or his property will never help his neighbor.” Then, referring to several passages including 1 John 3:15-17, Luther harshly warns, “Anyone who does not do that for his neighbor, but forsakes him and leaves him to his misfortune, becomes a murderer in the sight of God.”

Those are harsh words. He was reminding Hess and others that this life is not all there is. We must live in light of the imminent return of Christ. My Grandmother believed that Jesus would return in her lifetime. That didn’t happen, but she was right to live as though it might. When our hopes and dreams are in this life we have become idolaters. When our hopes and dreams are in the Kingdom of God we are willing to set aside our own will and even safety when necessary, to serve in the name of Christ.

Let us be prudent, but may fear never keep us from service. Let us serve in a way that honors and protects those we serve. For us, as believers in Jesus Christ, there is something more permanent than the here and now. Protect yourself if you can. Protect others. Trust God and serve, for “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Cor 15:50). We have a hope that goes beyond this life.

Friday, March 20, 2020

1 Corinthians 15:45-47

1 Corinthians 15:45-47 (ESV)
[45] Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. [46] But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. [47] The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.

When Paul writes “The first man Adam became a living being,” he is quoting from Genesis 2:7. God formed man from dust and breathed into him the breath (spirit) of life and man became a living being (soul). The contrast in the verses above is between soul and spirit. In Adam we became a living soul. In Christ we become a life-giving spirit. “Life-giving” is the same word used several times earlier in this chapter. For example, in 1 Corinthians 15:22 “In Christ shall all be made alive.” The words “made alive” are the same word translated “life-giving” in verse 47.

Notice the three contrasts in these verses above. First is the contrast between Adam and Christ. That contrast runs through this whole chapter. We are talking about our source of life. Adam received life from God in Genesis 2, but there is a sense in which we receive our life from fallen Adam. “In Adam all die” (1 Cor 15:22). In contrast, as believers our life is sourced in Christ who shall never die since he conquered death in the resurrection.

Second is the contrast between soul and spirit. We could spend a lot of time debating the differences. Mankind has both a soul and a spirit. It is significant in the creation account of Genesis 2 that God breaths the spirit of life into man and he becomes not just a soul, but a living soul. It was after Adam’s sin at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that death entered into the process. We are living, but it is a life that is dying. In contrast, the life we receive in Christ is a life of the spirit. It is the same word used by Jesus in John 3 when he was talking to Nicodemus. He said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn 3:6). That is exactly what Paul is talking about here in 1 Corinthians 15.

Third is the contrast between living and life giving. As natural humans beings we are living. Paul wrote earlier that even as we are living however, we are in the process of dying. But in Christ we are not only living, we are life-giving. We have the privilege of truly living no matter what this world throws at us. Whether we are believers in a land where we face death because of our faith, or in a world where we face the imminent threat of a pandemic, we still live. Our life goes beyond the grave, but more than that. In this life we have the gift of life to offer others. We have the Good News of life for a dying world. “We are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Cor 2:15). In these days of fear and anxiety may we, as believers who possess in Christ a life-giving spirit, truly be the fragrance of life to a broken and dying world.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

1 Corinthians 15:42-44

1 Corinthians 15:42-44 (ESV)
[42] So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. [43] It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. [44] It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

In my previous blog I indicated that 1 Corinthians 15 teaches that in Heaven believers will have heavenly bodies that will far surpass that of their earthly bodies. The verses above build on that thought. In what way do they surpass their earthly bodies? These verses list four contrasts. First, our earthly bodies are perishable. In fact, verse 22 indicates that we are all, as descendants of Adam, in the process of dying. We fear the Corona virus Covid-19. But let’s be honest; if the virus doesn’t get us, something else will. According to “The CDC estimates that as many as 56,000 people die from the flu or flu-like illness each year.” The World Health Organization estimates that over 157,000 people die every day in the world; over 157,000 a day. We all die sometime. It is inevitable. Our bodies are perishing. But our heavenly bodies will be imperishable. The death process will never touch us.

Second, dishonor and glory are contrasted. Other passages translate this word vile or shameful. It is a word used to describe a deteriorating, dead body. When we look at each other we don’t necessarily see dishonor. We see health and beauty, at least in some of us. But the truth is that compared to our heavenly bodies, our earthly bodies are pretty despicable. We will be so much more. We will have bodies of glory. That word refers to honor, renown, and splendor. It is the word used for the brilliant light that expresses the greatness of God. Compared to the body believers will have in heaven, this earthly body is much like the deer carcass on the side of the road.

Third, our earthly bodies are weak while our heavenly bodies will have power. As we age, we tend to lose muscle mass, height, stamina, and more. The process of death makes us weaker and weaker. But the heavenly bodies Christ followers receive are characterized by power, not weakness, by health not death, by strength not feebleness and frailty.

Fourth, our earthly bodies are natural while our heavenly bodies are spiritual. I will likely write more about this in a following blog as the following verses build on this thought. Suffice it to say that our earthly bodies are made of dust (see verse 47 and Genesis 2:7). Our heavenly bodies will be made of heavenly stuff (see verses 47-48).

As I write this we are all exercising social distancing for fear of contracting or passing on Covid-19. And that is wise, but the truth is, one day we will all die. Believers in Jesus Christ have imperishable, glorious, powerful, heavenly bodies to look forward to. Let me challenge you, if you have not put your faith in Jesus Christ as your personal savior, please do so today. Call someone you know is a believer and ask them to help you understand what that means. If you have trusted Christ, be safe, but don’t let fear control you. We have so much to look forward to.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

1 Corinthians 15:39-40

1 Corinthians 15:39-40 (ESV)
[39] For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. [40] There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another.

I have had fellow Christ followers get upset with me when I talked about heaven as a physical place, a new heaven and new earth (see Revelation 21) in which we would have a body. To them Heaven is a spiritual place not a physical place. They would even point to this chapter in First Corinthians as proof. “See,” they would say, “there are earthly bodies and heavenly bodies. Verse 44 even calls them ‘spiritual bodies.’ Heaven is a spiritual place.” But the emphasis on the spiritual is more Greek philosophy than biblical theology. Notice two things about verses 40-44. First, they refer to bodies not spirits. Second, when verse 44 speaks of spiritual bodies it does so in contrast to natural bodies, not physical bodies.

From these verses in the middle of First Corinthians 15 let me suggest three thoughts about our heavenly state. First, Paul’s argument starts with the fact that there are different kinds of bodies. He compares humans, animals, birds, and fish. They all have bodies, but they are not the same. Still, they are bodies. Our heavenly bodies might take a different form, but we were not designed to be bodiless spirits. God is a spirit, but humans have a physical component to them.

Second, the glory of our heavenly body will far surpass that of our earthly body. I referred to C.S. Lewis in an earlier blog when he indicated that if we would meet our heavenly selves we would be tempted to fall down and worship. I think he is right. We cannot fully comprehend what our heavenly bodies will look like. To use Paul’s metaphor from First Corinthians 15, our heavenly bodies will surpass our earthly bodies similar to the way a grain of wheat is surpassed by a stalk of wheat or a kernel of corn surpassed by a stalk of corn. There is a connection, but the latter is far superior to the former. So it is with our heavenly bodies.

Third, our heavenly body will be like that of Jesus. As eternal God, the Son is a spirit, but at a point in time the Son took on flesh and became human as well as deity. He is fully God and fully Man. That’s a mystery we have a hard time wrapping our head around, but we believe it to be true. Theologically we call that the hypostatic union. The Athanasian Creed says it like this, Jesus is “existing fully as God, and fully as man with a rational soul and a human body.”[1] Once Jesus took on the form of humanity he never stopped being human though he has always been God. For eternity forward Jesus has a body. The disciples saw it and touched it in the upper room after the resurrection. Mary clung to it near the tomb after the resurrection. His was a resurrected body, but a body. Like Jesus, we too shall have resurrected bodies.

This brings hope for those who are Christ followers. This life is not all there is. Too often we fear that we must do everything and experience everything in this life or we will miss out. But such is not the case. We have eternity to experience more than we can ever imagine in a world without loss, pain, or death. At a time of fear, when the world is locked down by a virus, Christ followers have this hope that these bodies are not the end. They are just the kernel that leads to something much better, much greater, much more glorious. We live not just in the now, but for eternity. Therein lies our hope.

[1], accessed March 18, 2020.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

1 Corinthians 15:35-36

1 Corinthians 15:35-36 (ESV)
[35] But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” [36] You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.

We are in the midst of an international crisis, a pandemic. It has filled many with fear and has raised anxiety around the globe. One little virus has crashed the stock market and brought much of the world to a standstill. It has spread quickly largely because the world has become so interconnected and mobile. It has spread unreasonable panic because we live in an age of unprecedented connectedness and communication. So, what does that have to do with the verses quoted above?

1 Corinthians 15 is a chapter on the resurrection of both Jesus and his followers. A naturalist will argue that there is nothing after death. That leads many to an unhealthy panic. In the face of something like a pandemic they are filled with fear and reflect on all their hopes and dreams that seem to have vanished. A mystic, on the other hand, sees their hope in a mystical union with he spirit world or with some universal spirit or energy. But Christianity sees hope beyond this life in a physical resurrection.

Belief in the resurrection does several things for the believer. First, we lose that fear of “what if.” What if I don’t get to do . . .?  What if I don’t get to go . . . or see . . . ? We understand that life is more than just here and now. There is so much more beyond this life that the “what ifs” lose their power.

Second, we believe that when we die we do not lose our identity. We do not simply merge with a universal energy. We are not disembodied spirits looking for a home. We do not cease to exist becoming part of a black nothingness. Abraham continued to be Abraham after he died. Elijah continued to be Elijah. Moses continued to be Moses. Jesus continues to be Jesus. You continue to be you.  

Third, you enter into the fullness of what you were created to be. Redemption is just that. It is redemption. Romans 8 teaches us that all creation is groaning as it waits for the redemption. This earth will be burned up and be recreated. Revelation 21 starts out, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1). At the center of that new creation is a city from which the glory of God shines. “By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it” (Rev 21:24). In the resurrection we will find purpose as we care for God’s new creation for his glory.

Fourth, our new bodies will be so superior to our old one that C.S. Lewis indicated if we would encounter our future self we would be tempted to bow in worship. Jesus transfiguration described in Matthew 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9 reveals Jesus transfigured and talking with Moses and Elijah. Their presence was so impressive that Peter thought it only appropriate to build three tabernacles for them. Jesus resurrection body was identifiable to the Apostles and yet it does not seem to have been bound by the same restrictions as our earthly bodies. In John 20 the disciples were hiding in a locked room when suddenly Jesus was there and yet his body was one that could eat, speak, and be touched. We do not know exactly what our resurrection bodies will be like, but they will be spectacular.

The pandemic called Covid-19 has thrown the world into a panic. Let me encourage you, if you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, to consider him. Reach out to someone you know is a believer and ask them to share their hope and their faith with you. Trust Jesus. For those of us who are believers, do not give in to the fear. We need to take rational precautions. But we must not allow fear to keep us from ministering to others. Neither should it fill us with the panic of the world. If we do catch the virus our future is in God’s hands. If we live through it, we live for a purpose. If we do not live through it, we die with hope. That is the power of the resurrection. Because of our hope in a resurrected Lord, let me leave you with his words found in John 14:27,
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Job 42 (Pt 2) The final post on the book of Job

Job 42:7 (ESV)
After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.

I find it fascinating that God did not say to Eliphaz, “you have not spoken of Job what is right.” He said, “You have not spoken of me (God) what is right, as my servant Job has.” God is here affirming Job’s innocence. Throughout the book, Job asserted his innocence. In this last chapter one might question whether Job’s estimation of himself was correct. His response to God was, “I despise myself and repent” (Job 42:6). Yet here God says Job was innocent. Job spoke what was right concerning God. Given Job’s innocence, it would have made sense for God to say to Eliphaz, “You have not spoken of Job what is right.” Reading back through Job, their theology seems fairly accurate. It was the application concerning Job where Eliphaz and his friends were off. Yet God says that they have not spoken what is right about God. Why does he say that?

Jesus said that in the final judgment “the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matthew 25:40). Have we considered that what we say to others and about others, we are saying to God and about God? Could that really be true? What we do to the least in society we do to God? Really!? How often, then, have we ignored God? How often have we spoken disparagingly about God? How often have we been rude to God? How often have we dismissed God out of hand? What Job’s friends said about him, they were saying about God. How we treat others cannot be divorced from how we treat God.

Too often we love God; we worship God; we would never speak disparagingly about God, yet we turn around and mistreat, or ignore others, and speak disapprovingly and unsympathetically toward them or about them. How is that possible that our lives can be so compartmentalized that we can love God and hate others at the same time? Yes, I know . . . hate is a strong word and we would never hate another person. So, we must be okay, right? But the Apostle John wrote these words,

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother (1 John 4:20 ESV).

God doesn’t just require that we not hate our brothers. He requires that we love them. We cannot separate loving God from loving others. Life just doesn’t work that way. Job’s friends found out that if you disparage and disrespect others, you disparage and disrespect God himself.

Father, today may I see Jesus in every person. May my words, thoughts, and actions reflect love for you that overflows into love for them. Lord, I can’t do that by myself. I’m not resolving to live in such a manner, I am pleading. Only by your grace can that happen. Fill my vision and let me see only you.

1 Corinthians 15:58

1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV) [58] Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord , know...