Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Know Exactly Where You Stand

The end of class was closing in quickly.  I kept glancing at the clock.  Only a few more minutes...

"Class is dismissed.  Lord willing, I will see you tomorrow."  

I grabbed all of my stuff and rushed to the hall where I could check my class standings.  I scan the page, find my number, and breath a sigh of relief.  Still good.  Still an A.

It was always nice to know my standings.  And college was not the only place I cared.  At the end of each quarter my junior and senior year of high school I would rush to the office to find out my class ranking - I was SO close to being salutatorian...but in the end I managed only third...

Regardless, it was still nice to always know where I stood.  Have you ever had that feeling?  You just want to know where you stand with someone?  Well, guess what? In Job, we find a recipe for us to know exactly where we stand with God!

Job 11:13-15 - If you would direct your heart right / And spread out your hand to Him, / 14 If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, / And do not let wickedness dwell in your tents; / 15 Then, indeed, you could lift up your face without moral defect, / And you would be steadfast and not fear.

A friend of Jobs, Zophar thought he held the answer to Jobs suffering.  Job didn't need this advice, though, as he could already be steadfast and without fear in the presence of the Lord.  Job was a good man through and through.

However, Zophar's advice is great advice!  Had Job not known his standing with the Lord this advice might have done the trick.  Zophar lays it out step by step:

1. If you would direct your heart right... (vs. 13a)
        First and foremost, we need to make sure our heart is in the right place.  'Direct' in the Hebrew is kuwn (pronounced like 'coon') meaning, "to be firm, be stable, be established" (Strong's H3559).  In other words, we need to make sure that our heart is firm and established in the right place - in God.  This phrase also suggests that the heart "that was defiled with sin and put into disorder must be cleansed and put in order again" (Henry).  In order for our hearts to be established in Christ, as they should be, they must be cleansed from all sin.  We must repent of the things we have done wrong and return to what is right.

2. And spread out your hand to Him... (vs. 13b)
        There are a couple of different view points here.  First, Wesley views it as a change of approach: "...turning thy bold contentions with God into humble supplications."  Or as Matthew Henry states, "To give the hand to the Lord signifies to yield ourselves to Him and to covenant with Him."    


       That is the word that jumps out at me from all of this.  We have to surrender.  Surrender isn't easy, in fact C.S. Lewis notes in The Problem of Pain, "The full acting out of self's surrender to God...demands pain..."  This giving up of ourselves is going to hurt.  But Lewis continues, "Human will becomes truly creative and truly our own when it is wholly God's, and this is one of the many senses in which he that loses his soul shall find it."  We must surrender to His will, to His ways if we are to ever truly live.

3. If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away / And do not let wickedness dwell in your tents... (vs. 14)
       'Iniquity' comes from the Hebrew word 'aven meaning "trouble, wickedness..." (Strong's H205).  Wickedness should not even be close to us.  He even mentions wickedness, or unrighteousness, dwelling in our tents, or homes (Strong's H5766).  The closer it is, the more tempting it becomes.  Flee from all wickedness.

The recipe is this: 
     1. Establish and cleanse your heart in Christ.
     2. Surrender to God's ways and will.
     3. Flee from all wickedness.

Then, indeed, you could lift up your face without moral defect, / And you would be steadfast and not fear (vs. 15).

 In other words, you "shall have a strong and comfortable assurance of God's favour," you will know exactly where you stand (Wesley).

I challenge you today to walk through that process.  We are 100 million times better off when we are in good standing with God our Father.  We've got the recipe, why not use it??


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