Does God’s will mean that only good things happen? Does He still allow Satan an amount of power, a season of devilish activity? Is the book of Job for today?
If God is sovereign and His will is what is… well, all you have to do is read some history books. He allows for evil to be alive and well in this season of time. Sometimes it’s hidden, at other times a very obvious thing. It even hides in a most obvious way, right under your nose, like some Purloined Letter.
God allows for goodness to be done in His name. He also allows evil to have its way for a time. This is because He is just. At the final judgment He will point out the evil done and sentence those who did it to hell. This time of mercy is meant to lead one to repentance so that Jesus is truly made Lord of their lives. To those called and foreknown, it does just that.
Can a foreknown person live a double life? Can they worship themselves along with God? Can they consistently molest, act in wrath, commit adultery, and yet write enough godly books to earn their salvation? Was Ravi Zacharias able to take advantage of multiple women and earn his salvation?
Without repentance, the bible says no. Now, I must speak on the other side to this. It was a blind spot before. In my anger I forgot the power of God’s grace. A brother in Christ pointed this out to me. God can choose to save a repentant soul at the very last second of their life.
The best example of this would be the thief on the cross next to Jesus. He repented claiming that Jesus didn’t deserve the cross but he did. Jesus promised him eternal life. So, God’s grace is good enough to save, if repentance is true. And God can will it to happen at the last few minutes of life. He is the final judge or course.
But what of people like Job, people who are not guilty as others suppose? What if society looks at the sorry state of their life and assumes judgement upon them? Can anyone take the place of the Holy Spirit and truly declare such a man unsavable?
I once heard a well-meaning Christian friend claim that someone was manipulating people with the fruit of the Spirit, using it to get their own way. I look on this person and see how kind and honest he has been, only to have every good thing stripped away from him. Not very successful at getting his own way. Yet, he remains kind in word and deed, the very opposite of manipulative.
Those who wound him claim to be the Holy Spirit. They judge him so harshly that no matter what good fruit he produces, it is still seen as foul. It’s more about the narrative they put on him than his actions.
If the book of Job is still relevant for today, then there are those among us who have been forced into Job’s sorry state. A cancel culture acts as Job’s false friends, speaking against him in platitudes and vague labels. They never go into the specifics but usually take a tweet or text largely out of context. Or they drum up words written many years ago. Can a person change over the years? Nope!
How do you defeat such a judgmental society? Get specific. No blanket statements or “narratives” about what “seems” to be. Call out what is, what exactly happened. Listen to Job’s perspective. Have empathy towards him. Feel what he is going through. If he truly was evil, then the specifics of his actions will prove this, not haphazard labels that push other’s sins onto him. Give Job and those like him a voice. You might be surprised at what you hear.
Be cautious of silencers and cancelers and labelers and narrative-pushing scapegoat makers. Be a listener and empathetic and understanding and perceptive and prayerfully-discerning of a person’s spirit as the Spirit leads.
Job isn’t the only place in the bible that speaks on this. Consider Matthew 7.
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.
Jesus is talking about what people do here. Fruit is a very specific thing. He isn’t speaking of labels. The apple tree produces apples after all.
18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
There is much confusion when a bad tree appears to be producing good fruit. Those closest to the bad tree, those who know the person well, well they know what this person actually does.
Some call themselves Christians and yet treat Christ and the bible as a hobby, objects and word puzzles that are fun to figure out. They can parrot the scriptures and sermons and even a few godly books, but anyone close to them knows the truth.
To anyone who is surviving abuse, no matter what “good” fruit your abuser appears to be producing, you know his true nature. Jesus calls such an abuser out. His fruit, it turns out, isn’t good at all. It is evil entirely.
Then there are people like Job who appear to be producing diseased fruit. Like my friend who’s kindness to others was seen as manipulative. How can you tell? Well, a godly man will stay kind even when things aren’t going their way, especially if things aren’t going their way. A false prophet or leader who treats the bible as a hobby will try a different tactic. “Well,” They’ll say, “Kindness didn’t work, maybe I should go back and see if good ‘ol-fashioned abuse does the trick.”
Are there any Job’s among you? Jesus promises that we can know them by their fruit. Don’t look at platitudes or narratives or what others say against the person, look at specific actions and words that the person actually did.
In short, if they are consistently kind, even when being constantly rejected and hurt… well, a good tree only produces good fruit.
Abusers and their like only produce bad fruit. This means that everything the abuser does, actually does and says should be monitored. Not their platitudes or parroted sermons. How do they act? An evil tree always produces what is evil.
If you find a Job canceled by the culture around him, give him a hug and lend him an ear. At the very least, be kind in return for his kindness. And always ever pray for him, really truly pray. And, if you can act on his behalf, do so. If a slander against him comes across your path call it out.
Don’t be like the false friends of Job in the bible, who constantly debated tirelessly debated over perceived wrongs. “Well, because evil has happened to you, it was God’s will and therefore you deserve it.”
Perhaps this “evil” being done is from the very Devil himself, allowed for a season to cause the person harm. Are you a child of the Devil or a child of God? If you are of God don’t help the Devil out by constantly rejecting Job’s Voice. You too will be known by the specific actions or fruit that you produce.
Christians must even be kind to their enemies, so, sorry to say, there is no excuse for treating even someone you hate in an evil way. Pray for wisdom in these dark and difficult days, for the few days of this earth are evil indeed.
And for goodness sake! If you are spreading rumors against someone who turns out to be like Job, repent! This means… stop hurting him. Be a true friend, actually think of him at times, even over your own needs. I can tell you this, true friendships are hard to find. Don’t lose one over slander because its convenient or the easiest way out. Sometimes God calls us to do the difficult thing. Sometimes this means to even become a Job for the sake of bringing glory to God.
If you had a choice to be a Job or a false friend… which would you choose? Think carefully now, being a Job means giving up the cushy life. It means you can’t be like a river, always flowing to the easiest paths. It means being pure… seeing the face of God and realizing that there is no room for your selfishness.