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Bible verses about Job, Self Righteousness, and Humility
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Job 3:23-26

Job tried hard to project a certain image. This was not entirely wrong, but despite his righteousness, his projection was far from the perfection that he may have thought he was showing, as the testimony of his three "friends" indicates. In fact, it was fraught with a major failure in his heart, which God clearly saw and determined to cleanse him of.

Suddenly, Job's image of himself is shattered before his eyes. What is he to do? Should he defend his image of himself or repent? To repent may have been quite embarrassing, but as the story unfolds, we see that Job does not perceive that anything is wrong with him. Even if something were wrong, it would have been a major embarrassment to have it exposed. He is so aware of himself as a human being that, for quite a while, he does not perceive that the problem resides in his heart. Therefore, he does what we all do: He defends and justifies himself.

The book of Job is the story of the destruction of Job's self-image. It can also be summed up as the book of human nature. His friends are unsuccessful in their efforts because they perceive his condition as being the result of the sins that he has committed; what he is going through is just retribution for conduct that Job has managed to hide from others for many years. However, God's comments to Satan in Job 1:8 and 2:3 reveal that this is not so: Job is an unusually righteous person, as far as the conduct of his life is concerned.

The problem is not what Job was doing but a flaw in what he was. His defect is not one of outward action but of inward thought, especially in how he perceived himself in relation to God, but also to fellow man. It is a matter of the heart.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

Job 9:32-35

As early as Job 9:32-35, Job complains that what he is enduring is completely and totally unfair and that God is wrong in permitting it to occur. The Revised English Bible clearly exposes at least an irritation against God, showing that Job, despite admitting that God is far greater, feels a measure of equality with Him!

God is not as I am, not someone I can challenge, and say, "Let us confront one another in court." If only there were one to arbitrate between us and impose his authority on us both, so that God might take his rod from my back, and terror of him might not come on me suddenly. I should then speak out without fear of him, for I know I am not what I am thought to be.

Despite being aware that a vast difference exists between God and man, Job is nonetheless unaware of how immeasurably different the reality is, shown in his willingness to stand with God before an umpire who would hear both sides of the case! He wants to be heard, not realizing he has no case to argue at all! He truly deserves nothing but death. At this point, Job is not yet overly concerned about God's right to do with him as He sees fit, but rather he is disturbed that God has not intervened and vindicated him before his accusing friends.

Job's complaint also reveals that he thought of sin merely in terms of an unrighteous act. He does not yet grasp that sin is more than a transgression of a code; it is a breaking of our covenant relationship with God that distorts life itself. Sin is the distortion, and whether it is an act visible on the outside or one of heart and motivation, the relationship with God is damaged because all sin is against Him. Jeremiah 17:9 reads, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?"

To speak or act of sin as though it is of no account to God, as though He is indifferent to it, to disclaim responsibility, strikes at the very core of our relationship with Him. This is what Job was doing in claiming that God did not care about him. The reality is that God was putting Job through this rigorous trial because He did care and did not want to lose the relationship with him.

Job's trial thus becomes a witness to us of the vast difference between God and us. Besides God's being eternal spirit and our being flesh, the greatest difference between Him and us is in our hearts. Jesus points out in Matthew 15:18-20 that sin begins in the heart. It is man's heart that needs changing. For one thing, its pride needs to be wrung from it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

Job 16:9-14

Does Job perceive Satan's involvement? The reader knows this from the outset, but it is possible that by Job 16:9-14, Job himself has become aware. Commentators have argued whether God, Eliphaz, or Satan is the adversary or enemy that Job refers to. The Amplified Bible inserts that it was Satan, which seems closer to reality than the other two. God is not his adversary but his best friend, and Eliphaz simply does not fit the descriptions of power attributed to the enemy.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

Job 17:1-4

Job has not yielded any ground, and now he asks God to put up bail for him to rescue him from his predicament. In addition, he is now not only accusing God for his plight, but he is also accusing Him of closing the minds of his friends so that they cannot judge fairly.

Something deep and wonderful is beginning to happen to Job. He does not yet "see" his sin, but he is vaguely realizing that he cannot justify himself before God or man by his works. He wants their former relationship restored—he wants to be reconciled to the One against whom he has sinned—so that he, in desperation or defiance, almost even as a challenge, asks the One he sinned against to set him free! This is exactly what God does through Christ. However, in Job's case, his condition continues to worsen before it gets better.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

Job 29:7-25

Job 29 presents a revealing picture of what Job thought he was projecting to others. It is basically true: His conduct was above reproach. However, it includes a great deal of self-exaltation. Job uses the personal pronouns "I," "me," and "my" in excess of forty times in this brief chapter.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

Job 30:18-25

Job 30:18-25 adds more complaints that essentially claim, "If I, Job, can see these problems, why can't God? And yet He does nothing!" His mindset is such now that he is blaming God for everything that goes wrong in his life. The sum of these charges is that God is guilty while Job is an innocent victim of God's blind, uncaring negligence.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

Job 32:2

Job 32 introduces Elihu, a sixth character in this unfolding drama, the lessons of which are critical to all mankind. He is a much younger man who has listened intently to the arguments flowing back and forth. The context reveals that he is patient but is also incensed at the four men whose arguments are recorded. He clearly perceives that Job's friends' arguments were condemnatory, but had not answered him correctly. He is angry at Job because his arguments claim himself to be more righteous than God. Job's attitude placed himself above God by denying that He has the right to deal with Job as He sees fit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

Job 38:1-7

God approaches Job in a way calculated to chop him down to the humanity to which he belonged. How could Job possibly conclude that he was anything close to what God is! Such presumptuousness! Had Job ever created anything remotely like this earth? How could he even begin to think he was somehow God's equal? Job had a highly exaggerated opinion of himself. He had somehow managed to outgrow his humanity or had lost it on this trip to call God into condemnation!

Just as surely as there was an awesome difference between God's creation of the heavens and earth and what Job had accomplished, there was at least that much difference between God and Job spiritually.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

Job 40:1-14

Job is confronted with overwhelming evidence that had him tightly backed into an inescapable corner. He is honest enough and loves truth enough that he does not even attempt to escape. With a mountain of truth and logic, God smashes Job's image of himself into a million pieces.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

Job 42:1-6

The images Job held both of God in His relationship with Job and of himself in his relationship with God and fellow man are shattered into an unrecognizable mass of pulp. Above all, Job now knows that God owes him only what He determines that He owes him. God is not beholden to mankind for anything.

Will we claim that God owes us anything because of our good works? God does not owe us a thing, even if we do obey Him perfectly! Our covenant with Him is not made on that basis. The covenant is made knowing that we owe Him everything. We have nothing to bargain with. Do we receive salvation because we trade keeping the Sabbath or paying tithes for it?

Job is truly humbled. Do we recognize humility when we see it? Do we know what it really is? Humility is an internal matter, one of the heart, not one of outside appearance. Moses was a humble man, but he also had a commanding presence. However, a person's humility greatly affects what those watching him see and hear emanate from him.

Godly humility is not a giant inferiority complex, as some believe it to be. Man by nature is not humble; by nature, we are well-pleased with ourselves and insane enough to think that we deserve something good from the hand of God. This describes almost exactly what Job thought of himself in his relationship with God. Men think that as long as God allows them to conduct their lives in a civil way, keeping themselves from the grosser sins, then everything is fine in their relationship with Him. The important reality of true humility is far from what men think, as Job certainly discovered.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

Matthew 5:3

Being poor in spirit is a far cry from being strapped in one's financial circumstances. Poverty of spirit is a change in a person's heart made by the great God Almighty when He awakens the mind to His reality and begins revealing the greatness of His person and purpose. The individual begins to become aware of his own puny character defiled by vanity and to realize that he is in the presence of brilliant intellect, power, and holiness. What happens to Job, for example, in Job 38-42 is not an ordinary change of mind but on the order of a miraculous divine intervention.

Until God intervenes, Job argues vehemently that he is not a sinner; in fact, he contends that he is a man of purity and good works. What he sees revealed about himself in comparison to God causes him great disgust: Now he realizes that he is a loud-mouthed braggart with a sky-high opinion of himself. It causes him such revulsion that he comes to abhor himself as a fool. In his own eyes barely moments before, he thought of himself as a shining jewel representing God before men. Moments later, he is a burned-out, worthless hunk of junk.

As one who thought highly of himself, he had argued with everyone to defend himself. Now, deflated, he admits, "I uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know." A powerful change had taken place in his attitude toward God and fellow man. He thought he knew everything worthwhile and shouted it to the high heavens, but the reality is that he knows nothing of what is truly important. He is broken.

Poverty of spirit occurs when a person empties himself of all desire to exercise personal self-will, and just as important, renounces all preconceived opinions in a wholehearted search for God. A person who is poor in spirit is willing to set aside his present habits, views, prejudices, and way of life if necessary—to jettison anything and everything that might stand between himself and God. To the mind of one poor of spirit, God, above all, must be pleased.

To be poor in spirit is not to lack courage but to acknowledge spiritual bankruptcy. It is the mind of one who confesses his unworthiness before God and realizes that he is utterly dependent on Him in every facet of life. Job had been a wealthy man accustomed to ordering others about. He depended on no one. He now discovers that he is totally dependent on God for every breath of life, and God must be acknowledged, beginning with his personal relationship with Him and then extending out to the ways he perceived and dealt with other men.

For the first time in his life, Job fully understands that without God, he could do nothing of value toward an eternal relationship with Him (John 15:5). Poverty of spirit is foundational to everything that proceeds from a person's relationship with God from that point forward. It is indispensible to continuing and growing the relationship, otherwise the ego becomes a major hindrance.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

Matthew 19:16-23

This event took place in the life of a wealthy man, a person we might think had no poverty of spirit due to his wealth. Surely, none of us would fit into that category! But is that so? Could we, too, be rejecting the Kingdom of God because we have great possessions—possessions in terms of preconceived ideas, confidence in our own judgment, and familiar and traditional beliefs? Do we always seek God's counsel first when these come into question?

How about intellectual pride born of academic distinction in school? Knowledge puffs up (I Corinthians 8:1). How about habits of life that we have no desire to give up and never consider that they may not glorify God? What about the fear of public ridicule because we are too interested in worldly honor and distinction? Are any of these less important barriers to full access to God than the rich young man's trust in his wealth?

The rich young man is a tragic figure not because he was rich. Wealth is neither good nor evil of itself. However, his barrier was that he was enslaved to his wealth. He was not free to give himself to God unreservedly. He had an unrealistic appraisal of himself and his money; both were too important to his sense of well-being. He could have been a multibillionaire in silver and gold, as long as his heart was not set on them. In this attitude, he would have been just as free as the poorest beggar to enter God's Kingdom. Yet, when the opportunity arose, he could not bring himself to submit to God in the flesh.

Godly humility is based on a true appraisal of ourselves in relation to God, and this must be combined with willing submission to Him, the self being a secondary consideration. Before he abhorred himself, Job was not this way, arguing with God and His laws.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

James 4:5-6

Taken together, James 4:5-6, Proverbs 23:6-7, and Romans 12:3 indicate that what a person thinks of himself is clearly important to God. We all have an image of ourselves that we carry about in our heart. We tend to think of ourselves in a certain way, a persona that we want to project to others. This is not wrong of and by itself. Because we love God, we should greatly desire to project to others an image of Him that is pleasing to Him. What is wrong, though, is that too often the image we project has its basis in some area of pride.

Most of us do not really understand exactly what image we project to others. In other words, we often do not succeed in projecting the impression we want others to have of us. For instance, it is easy for a person to think he is projecting an image of one who is serious, quiet, and contemplative, when the reality is that others consider him to be stern and condemning. A wide divergence of conclusions about an individual is actually quite common. While those who know us may see the same person, they take away different impressions, which results in different assessments.

The image that we try to project is what we think we ought to project for someone in our position. As mentioned earlier, the problem in most of this image-projection is that it is driven by pride, and "God resists the proud."

Since so many commentators believe that pride is the father of all sins, it is surprising that "pride" appears only 49 times in Scripture and only three times in the New Testament. The Hebrew term ga'on in a good sense indicates "majesty" or "excellence." However, most of its usages are negative, as the antonym of "humility." It is associated with arrogance, insolence, evil behavior, and perverse speech.

The Greek word translated pride is tuphoo. Its literal meaning is "to envelop in smoke," but metaphorically, it indicates "conceit," "lifted up," and "high-mindedness." The word pictures a person using smoke as a screen to conceal the image he does not want the public to see.

Pride includes a degree of haughtiness, a measure of contempt for others. It is a matter of the heart that is buried under the surface. However, though the one who suffers from it may appear to walk in downcast humility, all the while in his heart he has vast contempt for God and fellow man, which is revealed in his lack of the fear of God and general, overall disobedience.

Why is God so against pride? A person infected by this deadly quality so admires himself that he is unaware of his paucity of vastly more important qualities. A proud person cherishes independence so that he will not be beholden to others. He is so preoccupied with his self-proclaimed goodness that he never realizes that he has any sin from which he needs to be saved, and thus he will not be corrected. He believes that he is above it all.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

 




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