If you were falsely accused, in your defense what would be your final words?
“If my land has cried out against me and its furrows have wept together, if I have eaten its yield without payment and made its owners breathe their last, let thorns grow instead of wheat, and foul weeds instead of barley.”
The words of Job are ended. Job 31:38-40
Job concludes his defense to his woeful friends who accuse more than comfort in his time of need. Chapter 31 is a personal highlight for me of all that Job says refuting the false accusations made against him. These final words spoken here overflow with covenant language in which Job speaks curses upon himself if he should in any way not uphold his integrity.
As an aside, I’m also particularly struck by Job’s covenant with his eyes not to look lustfully at women, and it’s well worth our time to study as men. Our wives are challenged to be ‘Proverbs 31 women,’ could we accept the challenge to be ‘Job 31 men?’ But our sexuality as men is not my specific focus today; however, it is no small part of our integrity.
These final words are one’s we might ignore. Yet Job here personifies his land and its furrows as weeping together if he has received the harvest and eaten his fill by cheating or withholding payment. Should Job have shown injustice then he curses his lands to be unfruitful; instead of an abundant harvest of wheat or barley, let thorns and weeds grow in their place.
Don’t miss this point; Job and his family depended upon the land for their very lives. Unlike us they did not have stores stocked with shelves full of food to eat. If Job’s land would be cursed with thorns and weeds, his life and the lives of those in his household would all be in jeopardy.
The imagery Job uses is also picked up by James in the New Testament. He writes to the wealthy about the LORD’S judgment that will come upon them saying, “Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the LORD of hosts.” (Jm. 5:4).
Regardless of our personal annual income, do you and I as Americans realize how wealthy we all are? Don’t compare ourselves against each other; we will always find someone that we think is better off than we are. Instead can we see how much we have compared to the more than one billion people of living on less than $1 a day (see – The Faces of Poverty)? Our daily coffee or soda-pop is more than that.
Like Job our wealth and prosperity is great. How would we respond if it were suddenly taken from us? Would we continue to maintain our integrity as he did both in the words he spoke and the things he did? Are we confident enough of our integrity before the LORD of hosts that our final words would be a curse against ourselves for any injustice or sin we had committed?
Will our final words uphold or contradict our integrity?
Making you and me just like Jesus is God’s good work the LORD will bring “to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Php. 1:6). The bible would describe this as living a holy life; my family and neighbors will recognize this in me as living a life of integrity.
Yes to Yield
LORD Jesus, I don’t want my final words to be filled with regret or excuses, nor do I want my final words to contradict who You are making me as a man of integrity, to live just like Jesus. Holy Spirit give me wisdom in all that I do and say. Keep me sensitive to Your voice as You lead me in paths of righteousness for Your Name’s sake (see Ps. 23:3).