#4 The life of a good friend of God
When we think of the story of Job, we seem to remember all the devastating things that happened to him over a short period of time. Yet, there is something remarkable about the life of Job, that, in all sincerity, makes me wish that one day my life could ressemble his. (Well, perhaps not all of his life.)
In Job 29, Job is remembering what his life previously:
v4–6 Oh, for the days when I was in my prime,
when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house,
when the Almighty was still with me,
and my children were all around me,
when my path was drenched with cream
and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil.
I hope it can be said of me one day that God’s intimate friendship blessed my house (NIV). When the friendship of God was felt in my home (TLB). When the friendship and counsel of God were over my tent (AMP). When God’s friendship graced my home (MSG). What a privilege and delight for the tangible friendship of God to be felt in our home. Job and Jesus were close friends. And the verses that follow that describe the kind of man that Job was, reveal what the life of a friend of Jesus can look like. When we are so close to Jesus, that we become more like him. The things he cares about become the things we care about. The things he fights for, we fight for. The things he feels, we feel.
I rescued the poor who cried for help,
and the fatherless who had none to assist them.
The one who was dying blessed me;
I made the widow’s heart sing.
I put on righteousness as my clothing;
justice was my robe and my turban.
I was eyes to the blind
and feet to the lame.
I was a father to the needy;
I took up the case of the stranger.
I broke the fangs of the wicked
and snatched the victims from their teeth.
These are the verses that make me want to live like Job lived. “I made the widow’s heart sing” is one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible. Friends of Jesus make friends with the fatherless, the widows, the needy, the dying, the poor, and those who need snatching from the fangs of the wicked. When we get close to God, and his friendship is tangible, we change and lives around us change. If Job, in the Old Testament, could know the intimate friendship of God is his own home, how much more can we in the New Testament, through Jesus, be friends of God. Biblical historians say that Job was the first book of the Bible to be written, so Job would not have had the other books to rely on to know how to live. He had his friend, the ultimate friend, show him the way and what a radical, beautiful way it is.
The other verses in this chapter where Job is reflecting on his life, we see that he had a position of leadership and authority in his community. People looked to him for wisdom and guidance, they drank in every word that he spoke.
When I went to the gate of the city and took my seat in the public square,
the young men saw me and stepped aside and the old men rose to their feet;
the chief men refrained from speaking and covered their mouths with their hands;
the voice of the nobles were hushed, and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths.
Whoever heard me spoke well of me.
and those who saw me commended me…
…People listened to me expectantly, waiting in silence for my counsel.
After I had spoken, they spoke no more; my words fell gently on their ears.
They waited for me as for showers and drank in my words as the spring rain.
When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it;
the light of my face was precious to them.
I chose the way for them and sat as their chief;
I dwelt as a kind among his troops; I was like one who comforts mourners.
So many of us want to be influential in our cities. We want to bring wisdom and change, and be the leaders God has called us to be. But we miss the link in verse 11 and 12:
Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me BECAUSE I rescued the poor…
True influence comes out of what we do for the people around us, which in turn comes from friendship with Jesus. The world is in desperate need of true and godly leaders. Whenever I read the news these days, it seems that no matter what country is being featured, my overwhelming thought is: Wow, we need new leaders. And the kind of leaders we need are Job kind of leaders. Leaders who genuinely care for the marginalised and fight for justice. Leaders who represent the Ultimate Friend who “will bring justice to the nations” (Isa 42v1).
But, even if my life is not one marked by recognition, my great prayer is that it is marked by the blessings of the dying, the shouts of freedom of the oppressed, the songs of widows’ hearts, and most importantly, the tangible friendship of Jesus.