Seeking a heart for God is not practicing a faith that expects earthly reward in exchange for righteousness.It is not being religious so as to gain approval or honor from other people. A heart for God drives a faith that has a deep love for God; a faith that operates from a yearning for closeness to God; a faith that focuses on following God’s law out of love, not religious compliance.
In Job 29 we see Job fondly recalling the prestige he once had in the community because of his righteousness. It is a chapter that exposes Job’s focus on earthly reward for doing good. In verse 8-10 he talks of how young and old, princes and nobles had the upmost respect for him because of his righteousness. In verse 11, Job remarked, “For when the ear heard, it called me blessed, And when the eye saw, it gave witness of me… (NASB).”
Job’s righteousness is shallow in that he is focused on the prestige it gave him and this is what Satan sees when he told God in verse 1:11: “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” But God sees Job’s heart. A heart for God is born out of humbleness, out of loss, out of letting go of our efforts to be holy and letting God work on our heart. God accepts the challenge because He knows ultimately Job will not deny Him; he knows ultimately Job will acquire a deeper love for God because he was humbled by his suffering.
God knows the answer to our suffering. It strips us of any pride or ownership we have over our life. It humbles us by letting us know we have no control over our life. As hard as we try to build a good life by surrounding ourselves with good things from the world, disaster lurks around the corner. We may try to shield ourselves with a healthy diet, exercise, loving family or a home security system, but trials will still strike. Cancer can still stricken us, family can abandon us, car crashes can cripple and evil may still attack our savings or our home.
Job learns these hard lessons as all his prestige, his pride, is stripped from him. He loses his health, family, home and wealth. He learns that his relationship with God is the only thing that endures, the only thing with eternal value. Everything in this world is temporary. All we have comes from God whether we recognize it or not. Even our skills, our ability to create a good life, is all because of God. The story of Job shows us the most precious thing we can have in this life is a heart for God. That is what Job learns.
At the end of Job’s trial his life is restored, but he is a changed man. As believers in Jesus, one day we will be restored to what God intended us to be — restored to our full glory in his presence. The challenge for us is to not get distracted by this life to the point of worshipping things other than God. Like Job, life will humble us with trials and challenges. We will be told by others, like Job’s wife, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die (2:9, NIV)!” Job reveals his heart for God with his answer, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble (2:10)?”
Like Job, we should resist blaming God and cursing him for our struggles. We should cry out to God as Jesus did on the cross; as David did when pursued by Saul. Our trials in this life should humble us and direct us toward God; they should show us only the eternal matters in the end.
© 2020, CGThelen