The Fifth Attribute (A rerun)

Came across something I wrote back in 2009. Back when I was still reading the NKJV, before switching to the ESV. Well before this current season of trial and testing. Thought I’d rerun it as is . . . no touching up. But as much as the thoughts encouraged me again, what also grabbed me was the reminder that it’s in times of peace that we should be preparing for inevitable turmoil. That in the calm is the time to make ready for the storm. Really hard when you’re in the midst of it all to then start to try and establish a firm foundation to stand on. We feed on the word and store up it’s truth today so that tomorrow, in the battle, we can take up the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17).

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Job has long been one of my heroes of the faith. For some time now he has been a mentor to me . . . a role model . . . someone that I have wanted to emulate. Now, I’m not talking about the getting wiped out part . . . not looking to imitate that. But, should God in His sovereign purposes allow calamity to come upon this man, I would want to respond as Job did.

There have been four character attributes of Job which I have long had memorized and kind of worn as a banner. They were true of Job and I have desired, by God’s grace, to have them be true of me in some measure. The book of Job opens with them . . . God declares them twice as His testimony of His servant, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” (Job 1:1, 1:8, 2:3) There they are . . . blameless . . . upright . . . fears God . . . shuns evil. Not bad words to live by. Not a bad model of character to seek to imitate.

And though I’ve read these opening chapters of Job many, many times, this morning I noticed a fifth attribute. I found it in chapter 2 . . . I noticed it because it’s repeated twice . . . or, because the Holy Spirit picked it up off the page and decided to bless me with it this morning. This fifth attribute is first mentioned when Satan returns to the presence of God after having wiped out Job’s wealth and family . . . to which Job had responded by falling to the ground and worshiping God, declaring, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord” (1:20-21). (I never cease to be amazed by Job’s response!). Anyway, Satan returns and the LORD says to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” (Job 2:3)

And there it is . . . the fifth attribute . . . do you see it? . . . “He holds fast to his integrity.” Later in the chapter, when Job’s wife tempts Him to walk away from the faith, here’s what she says, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (2:9). Job was a blameless man . . . and an upright man . . . he feared God . . . he shunned evil . . . and, he held fast to his integrity.

This form of the word “integrity” is used only 5 times in all the Old Testament . . . and all those occurrences are here in the book of Job. It comes from a root that has the idea of “innocence,” or “simplicity,” and that of “fullness” or “completeness.” For Job it wasn’t complicated . . . and it didn’t need a lot added to it . . . God is good . . . period. He kept it pretty simple . . . He really believed what He said He believed . . . God is faithful . . . end of discussion. He wouldn’t interpret God by his circumstances . . . instead, he would view his circumstances in the light of what he knew to be true of His God. Job would hold fast to his integrity . . . he would remain faithful to his “true north” . . . he determined not to step off the Rock of his salvation. It’s not that he wasn’t teachable . . . we know how the book ends . . . God graciously (though very powerfully) revealed more of Himself to His servant. But that added knowledge would also become part of his inner compass . . . it too would be something he would hold fast to with integrity.

I don’t know that we place a lot of value on integrity as a society. Things seem pretty situational . . . the answer is different depending on the circumstances. We’re too sophisticated for “pat answers” or “simple solutions.” Rather than locking and loading on what is right just because it’s right, we’ll redefine right when it doesn’t suit our purposes or it becomes to hard to be right. We’ll faithfully follow God and praise and worship Him when things are going good . . . but, should expectations not be met or, or some adversity be encountered . . . then the praise turns to grumbling . . . and the “good fight” turns into a “good flight” as we think, “What’s the point? Why follow?”

Oh, that God’s people would model the fifth attribute. That not only would they be blameless, upright, fearing God, and shunning evil, . . . but that they too would hold fast to their integrity. “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10) God is good . . . all the time . . . God is faithful . . . all the time. It’s simple . . . it’s complete . . . it’s the fifth attribute . . . it’s integrity . . . and it’s for the glory of God.

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