“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” Job 1:1
God is perfect. What man is perfect? Even Job said, “If I justify myself, my own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, ‘I am perfect,’ it shall also prove me perverse.”( Job 9:20) If Paul said he wasn’t even perfect, how do we be perfect as he tells us in Philippians 3:15, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded…”? Why doesn’t the definition of “perfect” help me? In Greek, it’s “teleios”, complete, completeness (in labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.). How can I be completely complete? Unless you have a really lofty image of yourself, this ought to stop us in our tracks. I’m so incomplete. I’m so imperfect. I’m so not everything I was created to be. See, that’s the problem. And even if I go back to the Hebrew for perfect, “tam,” it’s the same idea. If we’re told to be holy as God is holy (Leviticus 19:2), how do I ever attain to that?
I can’t attain by what I do. Remember, to break even one law is to have broken all the law. Yet, that doesn’t exempt me from obeying the law. It just tells me that the law is not where I find completeness. So where is completeness found? Where did Job find it? And was it that he found it or that someone, a supreme Someone, gave it to him?
I want to look at Job. How did he get there. What does it mean that he “was perfect and upright”? “Hayah” is the Hebrew word translated as “was” here. It means existed, came about, accompanied, it happened. Isn’t it interesting that part of the definition has to do with accompanying with. It brings me to Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” This Ever Existent One brings us into existence and into being in Him. What is faith but a relationship with and in Him? How can one please Him if one is not of Him? Nothing less would satisfy. That’s how Job could be perfect and upright. That’s how he could eschew evil because of how he related to and in God.
It’s not that Job was such a great guy in himself. What made him a great guy, a perfect guy in God’s eyes, a complete guy, was that he was wholly devoted to God. Skip Moen shares how another author, Matthew Wilson moves the meaning of holiness away from “set apart.” He directs the meaning to being “devoted.” “We are to be devoted to God in the same way that He is devoted to us, to Israel and to His creation. ‘Therefore you are to be devoted, as your heavenly Father is devoted.’ “ I can’t be perfect, but can I be devoted to God like that. I can. I can choose to respond in devotion to God through all my circumstances, no matter what happens. Whether I’m successful or I fail, whether I do well, or make a mistake, I can devote everything in me to Him. In being devoted, I can continually move toward Him, continually seek His presence, His way, His delight even in the hardest times of my life. Job, David, Elijah, Mary, Priscilla, they all were devoted to God, and they were all just people, like you and me.
Listen to this verse, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) Jesus can sympathize with us. He has that kind of relationship with us. He earned that. How did he earn it? He devoted himself wholly to God! Was this easier for him than it is for me? No! He didn’t draw on his divinity to keep from sin. In his humanity, he remained devoted to God first. He did this just as a man, just like you and me. He wasn’t without sin because of some divine power that kept him sin-free. He was without sin because he chose to remain devoted to His heavenly father. What about me? What’s my excuse? What is keeping me from being wholly devoted to You, Lord? What is barring me from having a complete relationship with You? Maybe it all boils down to me. Maybe it’s just a matter of my devotion, and I’m the only one who can control that. And I suppose, if Job could control his own devotion to You, so can I. So, what excuse do I have?