The end of verse 40 brings weight to the significance of this chapter, “The words of Job are ended.” This is Job’s last appeal that he was righteous and just before all of his trials. It’s a specific list of six areas he pursued righteousness in what he described more generally at a higher level in Job 29: (1) He fought lust and avoided adultery (vv. 1-12), (2) he was a just employer (vv. 13-15), (3) he cared for the poor (vv. 16-23), (4) he didn’t put his confidence in money (vv. 24-28), (5) he didn’t retaliate against enemies (vv. 29-37), and (6) he was a good steward of land and landowners (vv. 38-40).
We are not in control! We can only control what we think and do. We should pursue righteousness out of our love for God because He first loved us and sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us on the cross and rise again from the grave. Christian’s aren’t pragmatists who only do things because we expect a certain worldly outcome. Even if we did the normal laws of cause and effect don’t always work how we might expect in a fallen world wracked with sin, and we would face constant disappointment. Every cause has an effect, but not every effect has a clear or correlating cause. In other words, saying correlation necessarily implies causation is a statistical and logical fallacy. In Job, God is teaching us that this is also a spiritual and theological fallacy, because God is doing things that we don’t completely understand for the greatest good of men and for the sake of His own Glory. Job pursued righteousness and he suffered horrible calamity and the loss of everything but his life. As we’ve already considered, Job didn’t suffer because of his unrighteousness, but because he is righteous and has faith in God. When we assess how God works based only on what we are able to see we can too easily be tempted to conclude that everything is arbitrary and meaningless in a nihilistic sense.1 This is a wrong spiritual and theological conclusion. Particular things we do often have a particular outcome, but we live in a broken world. So natural disaster, being attacked by others, the death of loved ones, financial loss, rejection by friends and loved ones, and the loss of a good reputation is not always explainable as a consequence of a specific thing we did. Even in the midst of all the loss, pain, misery and sorrow God is working these things for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Though our trials may feel meaningless, they are actually infused with God’s purpose to cleave us to Himself through the blood of His Son. If we pursue righteousness for the glory of God but but that’s mixed with the desire for earthly prosperity we will suffer loss and be thrown into a similar confusion and tailspin that Job faced. The fact that those who are “in Christ” suffer loss in this life as we pursue righteousness should not be a demotivation for us in the pursuit of living a life of righteousness. Only trust in Christ, trust in His perfect righteousness, and the inheritance that we look forward to isn’t earthly prosperity but an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us (1 Peter 1:4). Only set your hope in God and acknowledge with humility that He is trustworthy though we face sorrow and disappointment in this world.
1 Ecclesiastes 1:1 famously proclaims, “All is vanity!”, but then exposes that in reality the fear of and existence of God infuses everything with meaning: Ecclesiastes 2:24-26; 3:12, 22; 5:17; 8:15; 9:7-9; 11:9-10; 12:1.