Day 13 “Are There Any Righteous People? The Answer May Surprise You”

Todays Reading:    Job 11-13sound.gifMatthew 9:18-38sound.gif

In Job 11 we are introduced to Job’s friend Zophar.  This guy is a piece of work.  He challenges Job’s righteousness.  In verse 6 of chapter 11, he suggests that Job may even be underpaid for some of his sins.  He makes the Calvinistic argument-Total Depravity.  This means that we are all so depraved that any good thing that happens is a gift because we deserve nothing.  I agree with this to a point.   If we really got what we deserved, we would all be toast.  Is this true?  I would argue Yes….and No.

The question of our righteousness seems to be argued both ways in scripture.  The Bible is clear that in one sense there is nobody righteous.  We all fall short. This is true.  The sense in which this is true is that in comparison to a holy God none of us measure up.

There is another sense, however, in which people can accurately be described as righteous.  There was something in the righteousness of Noah that caused God to decide against the utter destruction of the world.  There was something in the righteousness of Job that caused God to talk smack with the devil and challenge Satan to put Job to the test.  Hebrews says that there is a great cloud of people around us that are righteous people who have been made perfect.  That is a fascinating phrase, “righteous people made perfect.”  This suggests that it is possible to be righteous without being perfect.  So while there is a sense in which none of us are righteous when we use God as our measuring stick, there is another sense in which we are called to live righteous lives in an unrighteous world.  If you use our  , we can stand out like “stars in the universe” by living righteously.   I know a lot of people like this.  They aren’t perfect, but they are righteous.  I preached the funeral for one of our dear saints the other day named Linda West.  She wasn’t perfect, but I would describe her as righteous in this generation.

I don’t know about you, but a lack of righteousness is not a satisfactory answer for me to the problem of evil.  Zophar seems to indicate to Job that he deserves what he was getting and more.  Isn’t it fun being lectured by people whose speak with confidence because their lives are going well at the moment.  I have had people equate difficulties in my own life to a lack of righteousness.  If the truth was known, sometimes I have experienced the favor of God when I least deserved it and at other times when I was walking close to the Lord, it seems like all hell broke loose.  One of the lessons of Job is that good times in our lives aren’t necessarily a sign of God’s blessing, just as hardships aren’t a sign of the curse that is on him.

As the readers of the story, we know what Job doesn’t know.  There is a back story to this story and Job is being tested.  Whatever you may be facing in life, understand that there is a back story going on.  We don’t know what is going on in the grand scheme of things.  We are simply called to be faithful.  I feel sad for those who have no theology for tough times.  If you know of somebody today who is suffering, don’t be like Zophar.  They don’t need your lectures, they need your presence.  Remind them that God loves them and that He is somehow mysteriously working His plan.   Read as many books as you like about how belonging to God will insulate you from trouble and turmoil, but Job’s story flies in the face of many of the popular Christians books of our day.  For Job, his suffering was only part of the test.  Surviving the lecturing of so-called friends and enduring the bitterness of his wife were equally daunting.  Anybody who can do that qualifies as righteous in an unrighteous world.

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About drphilipnordstrom

I am the Lead Pastor of Bethesda Christian Fellowship which is a dynamic growing congregation in Knoxville, Tennessee. I have an amazing wife, Melanie, two daughters, Natalie, and Kristiana, and a son, Noah. Nordstroms are passionate world changing Christ followers. We are educated with a Christian world view. We make godly decisions regarding friendships and marriage. We seek God's guidance for our life work and ministry. View all posts by drphilipnordstrom

5 responses to “Day 13 “Are There Any Righteous People? The Answer May Surprise You”

  • Bob Heren

    Important things to remember.

    I wanted to comment on another passage in the reading today: Matthew 9:29-30 “Then He touched their eyes, saying, “Let it be done for you according to your faith! ”And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus warned them sternly, “Be sure that no one finds out! ”
    The Greek translated “warned them sternly” is very strong. The commentaries are telling me that it means a stern countenance, loud voice and even implies raging with anger. This seems so strange for Jesus to do this. Why would Jesus be so strong about keeping this act a secret, especially when it seems like it would’ve been an impossible secret to keep (how are they not going to tell people who recognize them on the street how they’d been healed?).
    One of the commentaries seems to give the best explanation: Jesus didn’t heal them in the street but went into a house where they would be in private, so He must’ve been trying to avoid making a spectacular scene. Jesus’ purpose wasn’t served by making a public spectacle at this point in His ministry. So, why did He heal them at all? Why not just tell them to go away? It seems to me that Jesus’ heart held so much compassion and care for these men that He just couldn’t bear to leave them unhealed while He saw them. Even when it was inconvenient for His purpose on earth, He couldn’t walk past suffering without helping. Then, after He’d done it, it almost seems like He’s disgusted with Himself for not being able to resist the urge to help. “But make sure nobody knows!” He says to them afterward, as if He’s just broken a window or something.
    That’s the God we serve, not someone who occasionally deigns to pay attention to us, but One who cannot help Himself: even when He wants to ignore our sufferings, He finds His compassion and love for us too strong to deny.
    Ironic, of course, that we’re reading Job in parallel with this, but I think both truths are played out at different times.

    • drphilipnordstrom

      Great catch. I noticed this as well, but opted to go for the Job passage because this issue really heats up in Mark’s gospel. It’s something called the Messianic Secret. I googled Messianic secret today and found this http://www.studylight.org/dic/hbd/view.cgi?number=T4265 I’m not sure it completely satisfies me. I thought the answer you suggested is very plausible. I like the idea of Jesus not being able to help himself from healing the sick and delivering the oppressed. It reminds me of him helping the Gentile woman who says, even the dogs eat the crumbs from the master’s table. The idea of Jesus being so full of love and compassion he can’t hold back really fits in with what I believe about him. Great thought Bob.

  • Laura Grimmer

    Thank you for your post as it was very helpful to me. there is nothing worse then going through a difficulty time and having others judge you as to weather this sickness, ect. is of God because you are doing good and being tested or from satan because you are in sin. we need to come along side of people and pray for them, lift up there hands and do all that we know to do in love. God let us be senative to what others are going through and give us a loving heart to bring healing to others, In the name of Jesus! He is my healer.<3 God bless.

    • drphilipnordstrom

      Thanks Laura. Thanks for being such an encouaging friend. My dad has had two kidney transplants and when he was in the hospital 40 years ago, there were people trying to cast the devil out of him. They were truly Job’s friends. Miraculously, my father is still with us, but he has had to endure hardships along the way. You remind me of Job in that your spirit shines even when your body is weak. God bless you friend.

  • darrenfink

    The interesting thing for me about the Job story is that his friends don’t know the story behind the story. They have not a clue that God and Satan having been speaking about Job. I keep thinking about the response that I would want the three men to give to me. Whatever happend to people just saying, “This really stinks. Can I help you mop up those sores?”
    The lesson for me is that I’m not usually a friend to someone that has lost their family and possessions. It’s easy to see the situation when a righteous man is suffering SO badly. I’m usually a friend or a husband to someone that is having a bad day. How do I react in those situations?

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