Text: Job 2:1-10 September 11, 2011.
1) Words of a toddler: One day, a 3-year-old girl exclaimed to her Mom, “I love you, Mom.” Curious of the claim of her little girl, the Mom asked, “Why do you love me?” The girl answered without hesitation, “Because you play with me.” When Mom asked if there was any other reason, she said, “Nope. That’s it.” The girls’ answer caused the Mom to smile. But it also caused her to think about the way she relates to God: Do I love God because of what God does for me or gives to me? Will I still love God when His blessings disappear?
2) Words of a saint: Job had to answer these questions when very bad things happened that claimed the lives of all his children and destroyed all his possessions and his wife advised him: “Curse God and die!” Instead, Job said, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (2:9, 10) Job’s love for his God didn’t depend on His blessings but also in the tragedy God allowed to happen. He did not look for tidy solutions to all his problems. Job loved his God because of who God is, not on what God has done for him or had given him.
WHY LOVE THE LORD?
1) It is what the Lord asked: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deut. 6:4-5) Similar commands were repeated in Deut. 13:3 and 30:6. These were the words of God delivered through his servant Moses to God’s people in the very early time of their history. Among all the laws God gave to his people, loving the Lord is the first and the utmost the Lord asked from his people and us. God wants us to love him with all our heart, our soul and our strength.
2) It is what Jesus also asked: “Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and the greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-37) This is the answer Jesus gave to the question: which is the greatest commandment in the law. Among all the laws in the Old Testament, Jesus picked this one: Love the Lord your God as the first and the greatest of all.
3) It is what King David did: “I love you, O Lord, my strength.” (Ps. 18:1) Again, “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.” (Ps. 116:1) David, a man after God’s heart, had such an intimate spiritual relationship with God and he expressed his deep love to the Lord all through his writing in the Psalms. Love is both an emotional and mental decision built on deep understanding and strong desire of closeness. When we build a close relationship with the Lord, include him in our daily life, seek and share our feelings with him, we grow in our love to the Lord as we grow in our experience of His love.
4) It comes with great reward: “The man who loves God is known by God.” (1 Corinth. 8:3) Sometimes people either don’t care or have no capacity of understanding love from others. They don’t appreciate love others shower on them, they take it for granted. But that is not the case with God. God, through his servant Paul wants us to know: God knows anyone who loves him with all his heart and soul. Our love to God will not go unnoticed or in vain. Jesus promised us: “He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14:21) If you love God, God will love you back. Wow!
LOVE GOD IN BAD TIMES: (Job 1:21-22, 2:1-10)
1) Recognize God’s sovereignty: In the agony of pain for all the losses in a blink of an eye, lost everything anyone could have amassed, Job recognized the total sovereignty of God and His total control. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be praised.” (1:21) Recognize the total sovereignty of God, his power to give and his right to take away is the starting point of our continue love to Him. We love God by respecting His sovereignty, wisdom and power of give and take, not just by what he gives and blessing we receive from Him. It is God whom we love not just His blessings.
2) Recognize God’s righteousness: God did not allow bad things happened to Job because he was bad but because he was good, very good. God was very proud of Job and he bragged about him. For the second time, God asked Satan if it has seen such a perfect man like Job: “There is no one on earth like him. He is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity though you incited me to ruin him without any reason.” (2:3) When we doubt God and his righteousness in our pain and loss, we are in danger of losing our love to Him. Sometimes God allows bad things happen to us because He knows and trusts that we are good and are able to take the pain and loss without changing our love to Him.
3) Recognize human weakness: Job was so perfect in his love and faith in God, but he didn’t have a matching wife to support him to go through the darkest chapter of his life. We don’t know how this woman behaved when things were in perfect condition. But we see how this woman behaved when things are not going well. She was so sad, so angry, so hopeless and so hysterical to the point that she gave up God and her husband. She suggested that Job “curse God and die.” (2:9) She lost total hope with God and her husband: neither of them could save what she treasured. Of course Job did not do what she wanted him to do. When we go through the darkest hours of life, there will be many human suggestions, comments, advice or even ridicules. We need to see human failure in time like this and not fall into their traps.
4) Recognize our integrity: Many people react to adversity in ways way out of their normal mentality like Job’s wife. When they lost their control, they will say or do things they normally will not say or do. But that is not the case with Job. Job continued to hold his integrity, his faith and love to his God even in the most devastating situation. See how he responded to the foolish words of his wife: “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God and not trouble? In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” (2:10) Going through bad time doesn’t give us a license to sin against the sovereignty of God. It does not give us reason to say or do things to expose our foolishness. We are to keep our integrity to God in all circumstances.
WHAT HINDER US FROM LOVING GOD? (Rev. 2:4-5)
1) We down grade love to God: I believe all Christians, or great majority, still love God in someway. I don’t believe any true believer of God can totally abandon his/her love to God. Our problem, like that of the Ephesians Church in Rev. 2:4, we have down graded our love level to God, namely have departed from our “primary” love level to a lower level. We push God down to a lower level of our love, yet we still love him. We replaced something else as our primary object of love other than God who used to occupy the high seat.
2) We misunderstand God’s mind: Many of us, if not most, think that God will take anything or any part we still love him and still be happy. But the fact is NO. God won’t. To the Ephesians Church, Jesus gave them a stern warning: repent, get back or I will come and remove your lamp stand. (Rev. 2:2-5) You can give your own interpretation of these verses, but none of your explanation will bring back the original blessing God once has given you. God will never be happy to stay at a lower level of our love and loyalty. Either He is your God or He is not.
3) We mix up God with blessing: Many Christians have this pro-blem: taking God’s blessing as God. These people love God in good days, enjoying His blessings, good life and smooth sail. These people have no problem of loving God as long as God continues to pour his blessing on them on what they do. But they will change or withdraw their love, trust or commitment to God when life takes a down turn for the worse. That was how Job’s wife reacted to God when blessings turned to disasters. If we truly love God and not his blessings, we should continue to love him like Job did regardless of what is happening around us. So, don’t stop or withdraw your love to God when life takes a wrong turn. We should love God, not just His blessings.
4) We love more than just God: No one would think or say I don’t love God, we all do. But many of us want to love God and some one or something else at the same time or on the same level. This is an ancient problem even at Jesus time. That is why Jesus told us: “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can not serve both God and money.” (Matt. 5:24) If you have lived long enough and are honest, Jesus has spoken not just to people of his day but to our day also: people want to love God and money at the same time that Jesus won’t allow.
1) “I love you, Lord”: Make a commitment to truly love the Lord with all your heart, your soul and your strength. He deserves all our love and dedication. Give Him your heart, your time and your resources to show Him your true love. Any other object of your love will not go to heaven with you except your love to the Lord. So, don’t waste your love on worldly objects that will never last long. Give the Lord your best and you will hear Him says: “Good and faithful servant. Come in and enjoy the feast of your Master.”
2) “I love you,” says the Lord: The Lord demonstrated His love for you by his death on the cross to forgive your sins and provide eternal life for you. The Lord wants to become your lord of life to lead you to a higher ground and a meaningful life. The Lord wants to give you strength to go through this life on earth and to be with Him in eternity in heaven when you are done with your duties on earth. Come to Him and He will give you peace.