Something That Matters, Today!

Last week, I wrote about wealth. One of Job’s friends was trying to equate Job’s physical condition with his spiritual condition. Eliphaz was saying that Job’s lack on the outside (his loss, his health, etc) was an indicator of his lack on the inside (God wasn’t pleased with Him).

In the book of Job, the three friends (and later a fourth) and Job go back and forth a good bit. Sometimes it seems that Job is being wise; at other times, he really seems to be missing the point. But I like what he said in chapter 28, and it is a good follow-up to my last blog post that I just summarized.

Job 28:12-28

12 “But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? 

13 Man does not know its worth, and it is not found in the land of the living. 

14 The deep says, ‘It is not in me,’ and the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’ 

15 It cannot be bought for gold, and silver cannot be weighed as its price. 

16 It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, in precious onyx or sapphire. 

17 Gold and glass cannot equal it, nor can it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold. 

18 No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal; the price of wisdom is above pearls. 

19 The topaz of Ethiopia cannot equal it, nor can it be valued in pure gold. 

20 “From where, then, does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding? 

21 It is hidden from the eyes of all living and concealed from the birds of the air.

 22 Abaddon and Death say, ‘We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.’

 23 “God understands the way to it, and he knows its place. 

24 For he looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.

 25 When he gave to the wind its weight and apportioned the waters by measure, 

26 when he made a decree for the rain and a way for the lightning of the thunder, 

27 then he saw it and declared it; he established it, and searched it out. 

28 And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.'”

We’re talking about something far more valuable that earthly riches here. Something that can’t be bought (v15), priced (v16), or bartered (v17). What is it?

The fear of the Lord. Wisdom. To turn away from evil.

 We’re not talking about 3 different items here, but rather, 3 items that are linked together – “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.”

It is mentioned in other places in Scripture as well:

Psalm 111:10

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

Proverbs 9:10

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

If we really wanted to get “ahead,” we would pursue Him, more than the excellence of career, or finances, or personal health, or the other things that we can easily prioritize over our spiritual walk and our Creator.

I do believe that our God wants us to be good personal stewards of our own body and health. There are multiple scriptures for this – here’s one:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

As long as we don’t over-prioritize it over what really matters.

1 Timothy 4:8

8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

So, be the best we can be. But to do that, in our pursuit of excellence, we must remember where it starts, and what matters most.

Job 28:28

28 And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.'”

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Promising what wasn’t his to give…

My rambling for the day…

In my study this morning, I read a passage that I had not recollected reading before (isn’t it amazing how that happens?)

Job 22:21- 30

“Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you.  Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart. 

 If you return to the Almighty you will be built up; if you remove injustice far from your tents,  if you lay gold in the dust, and gold of Ophir among the stones of the torrent-bed,  then the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver. 

 For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God.  You will make your prayer to him, and he will hear you, and you will pay your vows.  

You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways.  For when they are humbled you say, ‘It is because of pride’; but he saves the lowly.  

He delivers even the one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”

These are the words of Eliphaz’, one of Job’s three “friends,” and a spreader of deceit and lies.

It seems that one of the themes of my personal spiritual walk these last few months has been the importance of solid, sound doctrine. I’m of the persuasion that some Christians could not identify sound doctrine if it tattooed itself on their heads, and as a result, that many Christians can and do fall for false doctrine.

We see this throughout Scripture. I was just reading in 1 Timothy 4:7 in Paul’s encouragement to Timothy:

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness.

Often, false doctrine is lunacy. However, in many cases, false doctrine is persuasive because it so closely resembles the real thing. Just as people ignorantly sometimes possess and pass counterfeit bills, unable to tell the difference (unless they are an expert at doing so) between the counterfeit and the genuine article, so it is with doctrine.

And so, the words of Job’s “friend,” Eliphaz. We see throughout Job that his friends walk on the doctrinal fence, blending popular sayings and clichés with gospel-ized opinions and truisms. And as I was reading in chapter 22 this morning, I was asking myself – “Is this prosperity doctrine?”

The wiki definition of Prosperity Doctrine – Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel or the health and wealth gospel) is a Christian religious doctrine that financial blessing is the will of God for Christians, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to Christian ministries will always increase one’s material wealth.

As a child, I still vividly remember doing a church visit with my father. We had learned of a lady in our town who needed groceries. We stopped to get her some groceries, then took them to her…shack. It was no house. She was ancient. It was a dilapidated house, needing to be condemned, unsafe to live in. It had no power, and thus no way to prepare food properly and safely.

After prying, my father discovered that she was sending all of her money to a preacher on the TV who was promising his believers many financial returns on their seed gifts. She was sending no money to the local church, nor was she attending one. She was grateful to receive the groceries, and I’m not sure what happened to her after that visit.

Just as that preacher was promising this lady riches that were not his to give, if only she would bestow him with her material possessions (and he was made very wealthy off of people like her), Eliphaz is promising with authority that is not his that Job will be prosperous if he only repents and seeks God.

Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you”

Mind you – Job had done nothing wrong to deserve what he had, and yet he was in great anguish. The link between physical and material riches, and spiritual “good behavior” is not existent in this case.

I don’t mean to use this post as an entire description and rebuttal of the “prosperity Gospel.” I do think it ironic that people can justify leading a life looking forward to material blessings, promotions, and riches, all while claiming to follow a Shepherd who despised those things and even preached against them. When Jesus encountered a rich man, what did He say to him?

Mark 10:21-23

 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.  And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”

There’s a difference between a gospel that promises riches to our flesh and a Gospel that promises security to our souls.

And so we have Eliphaz counseling Job that if he would just get his act together, God would make everything rosy. Job would be restored and be taken care of. The problem is, Eliphaz has it all wrong, from the very beginning. Sometimes the test is being obedient in suffering, not living in an eternal spiritual state of earthly blessings.”

God can and often does bless, provisionally speaking. And I’ve been known to pray that needs would be answered, and I have seen them answered! But that is not to be our focus, our expected reward, or the climax of our spiritual journey.

Matthew 6:19-21

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

God promises much better things than the paltry wealth of this world. Live for those things, and they will make today’s wealth seem like what it is. And we will find the true meaning of wealth and prosperity!

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