Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.– Job 1:20-22
Job was a rich man and a righteous man (Job 1:1-4). Satan claimed Job was only righteous because he was rich. He accused God of bribing and buying Job off with blessings. He also accused Job of only serving God for the blessings he received. If the favorable circumstances changed, Satan assured Job would curse God to his face.
God accepted the challenge. As a result, Job was caught in the crossfire of a cosmic bet. The Lord lifted his hedge of protection from around Job’s life. Satan attacked Job’s life. One day, Job was ambushed by the unexpected. He received bad news after bad news. By the end of the day, Job lost everything. All of his possessions were taken away. All of his servants were murdered. All of his children died in a freak storm.
You misunderstand the story of Job if all you see in the story of Job is the story of Job. This is not merely about Job. It is about you and me. If you have saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the same satanic accusation against Job is made against you. Do you serve the Lord for his name’s sake? Or do you only serve the Lord to receive blessings?
This is the test of true worship. It is one thing to worship God when the sun is shining. It is another thing to worship God when the storm is raging. True worship is not fair-weather worship. True worship continues to worship God when the storms of life are raging.
Job 1:20-22 is a God-inspired “cheat sheet” to help you pass the inevitable test of faith you will experience. It teaches three characteristics of true worship.
True Worship is a Choice.
Job 1:20 reports, “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.” This was Job’s natural reaction and spiritual response to the tragic news, unspeakable loss, and broken heart.
Tearing his robe and shaving his head were customary expressions of pain, grief, and sorrow. But these were no ceremonial acts. Job truly grieved. By his example, Job teaches us that there is nothing spiritual about acting like life does not hurt when life hurts. Being born again does not make you bionic. Godly people grieve. In scripture, many godly people, like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Jeremiah, Peter, and Paul, wept and mourned. Even Jesus wept at the graveside of Lazarus (John 11:35). The Bible does not forbid mourning. It only admonishes us not to sorrow as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). After Job tore his robe and shaved his head, he bowed on the ground. And with his face in the dirt, Job worshiped God. It is understandable that job grieved his loss. It is what you would have done. But can you worship God with a broken heart? Job’s spiritual response teaches us that worship is a choice. Believers suffer bad things in life, just like those who do not believe. We grieve. They grieve. But we do not curse God, sin with our lips, or charge God with wrong. God does not change when our circumstances change. So we continue to worship him no matter the circumstances.
The Bible teaches three facts of life: God is good. God is all-powerful. Terrible things happen. Any two of these facts make sense together if you exclude one. It does not matter which one you exclude. To embrace all three makes no sense. But faith involves believing all three truths at the same time. And the evidence of faith is that you continue to worship this all-good and all-powerful God, even when terrible things happen. Life is hard. But life is not God. God is God. And God is good all the time!
True Worship is the Result of an Eternal Perspective.
As Job worshiped, the media showed up. “Job, you’ve lost everything,” a reporter said. “How do you feel?” Job answered, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job’s eternal perspective is expressed in two statements about himself and three statements about the Lord.
Job made two statements about himself. First, he says, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb.” Job acknowledged that he did not enter the world with cattle, money, servants, property, or children. Everything he had possessed, he received after his birth. He came into the world naked. Everything he possessed was a grace gift from God. This is the first principle of Christian stewardship: God owns it all. We are only stewards of the blessings God entrusts to us. Then Job said, “And naked shall I return.” We checked into this world with nothing. And we will only be allowed to check out with what we checked in with. We brought nothing into this world. And we will take nothing with us when we depart. A baby is born with closed fist; a man dies with open hands. Death inevitably snatches away the material possessions we accumulate.
Job made three statements about the Lord. Job says, “The Lord gave.” God is a giving God. But do not judge God’s generosity by what is in your bank account. Divine generosity is ultimately demonstrated at the cross of Christ. Then Job says, “And the Lord has taken away.” Job did not say the Lord gave but Satan took away. God alone provided and withdrew Job’s blessings. Good parents give allowances and punishment to teach their children responsibility. So does God the Father. Then Job said, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” It’s easy to say the Lord gave. It’s hard to say the Lord has taken away. But it is impossible to say blessed be the name of the Lord without an eternal perspective. Job blessed the Lord because the Lord gives before he takes away. Job blessed the Lord because the Lord gives more than he takes away. Job blessed the Lord because even when the Lord takes away, he leaves us enough to make it with.
True Worship Requires Stubborn Trust.
Prosperity preachers claim Job made his situation worse by speaking a negative confession. God only gives and never takes away, they insist. This only proves the “money-cometh” hustlers only read the parts of the Bible that support their predetermined conclusions. Job 1:22 states: “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” The fact that Job worshiped God did not prevent Job from having to bury his ten children. Yet Job did not allow his tragic circumstances cause him to wrongly indict the goodness, wisdom, and sovereignty of God. Job trusted God’s character even when God’s ways did not make sense to him.
This is not the end of the story. Job did not curse God when life tumbled in on him. But Satan did not concede. He concluded that he did not hit Job hard enough. And he asked permission to attack job again. The Lord gave Satan free access to Job’s life, only stipulating that his life is spared. This time, Satan attacked Job’s health. “Do you still hold fast your integrity?” Job’s wife asked. “Curse God and die” (Job 2:9). Job’s wife wrongly concluded that Job offended God. She advised Job to go all the way so God would strike him down. Job’s wife is the ancient prototype to Dr. Kevorkian. She proposes the first “mercy-killing” to end her husband’s misery.
“You speak as one of the foolish women would speak,” Job responded. “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” Again, Job did not sin with his lips in saying this (Job 2:10). It is not wrong to say the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. It is wrong to receive blessings from the Lord and refuse to receive trouble. There is a place where the sun always shines and it never rains. It’s called a desert. Nothing grows in a desert, including faith in God. Real faith is ambidextrous. It can take blessings in one hand and trouble in the other, lifting both in the worship of the God who is worthy of our stubborn trust, complete obedience, and unceasing praise.