SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Commentary by Walter Albritton
Integrity in Everyday Living
Job 27:1-6; 31
Key Verse: All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; my lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit. – Job 13:3
Daily all of us face the pressure to compromise the truth. True, but is that bad? After all, compromise is necessary in our complex society. Compromise is the secret of the democratic process.
That is a persuasive argument. However, it may be helpful to look again at the meaning of the word “compromise.” One meaning is “a settlement of differences in which each side makes concessions.” That is good politics – so long as truth is not sacrificed.
If, however, our concessions tend to weaken or downgrade our morality, then we must admit that we are compromising with the devil. The Evil One uses just such compromise to lead us gradually away from staunch faithfulness to God!
One virtue of Job that we must admire is his unwillingness, despite his suffering and the coercion of his friends, to compromise his faith. He refused to commit evil by telling lies. Truth was important to him. He recognized that he was accountable to the God who had made him, that one day would have to answer to God for his conduct.
My friend Frank Pierce was a “body” man. He fixed wrecked cars. Years ago it was relatively easy to cheat on the repair of a car. The scheme involved repairing a car for one price and charging the insurance company a higher price. The paint and body technician would agree to split the difference with the car owner.
My admiration for Frank grew enormously the day he shared with me that he had lost a lot of business to other body shops because he would not agree to such deceit. Frank never made a lot of money; he never lived in a fancy home. However, when he died, his family and his friends knew that an honest man, who honored Christ in his work, had gone to be with the Lord. Frank’s integrity was not for sale!
Job’s integrity was not for sale either. He vowed that lies would not fall from his tongue, no matter what. He insists that he will not betray his Maker. After all, God made him, and God gave him breath. So he declares that even with his last breath, he will honor his Creator by being truthful.
Such a determined attitude reminds us of John Wesley who wished with his last breath to offer praise to God. We know that some people die with profanity on their lips, their final breath used for cursing, sometimes even cursing God.
We know also that it is possible for us to pass away while singing praise to God. I was present in the hospital room where a godly woman was dying. As her family listened to her faltering speech, she began singing the Doxology. We joined with her and wept as, with her last breath, she sang “Amen” as the song and her life concluded.
Job was willing for God to examine his conduct. He was sure that he had not been guilty of hypocrisy. Most of us are not willing to go that far. We know how easy it is to make promises to God in church, then surrender them in the heat of everyday conflicts in ordinary living. If gossip is a story told about someone we dislike, we are tempted to repeat the story, perhaps even embellishing it. We know how difficult it is to let gossip die with us; we can “kill” it by refusing to repeat it. We all know the sick feeling that rises within us when we tell a story we know we should not have repeated.
Job was so sure of his own righteousness that he could ask God for justice. His walk with the Lord was honest and true, without any hypocrisy. We know that is not true of ourselves. We must cry for mercy, not justice. We know that despite our best efforts our walk with the Lord has not been perfect. We are more comfortable praying with David, “Have mercy on me, O God,” than we are in praying with Job. We know we have sinned “and come short of the glory of God.”
Job, on the other hand, was guiltless, at least in his own mind, and free even of the sin of idolatry. Here again, we are all nailed by idolatry, the sin of loving any “thing” more than we love God. Whatever is more important to us than God is an idol. God insists, remember, that “no other gods” be put before Him!
can be many things. Hunting or golf can become idols for women as well as men.
One man insisted that the Sunday worship services end promptly at . He had a tee time at . He wanted to worship God as long as it did not
interfere with his golf game. When God is not in first place in our lives, we
are guilty of idolatry. The only remedy is to renounce our idols and turn to
the living God as people did under the inspiration of
We know the inward turmoil that comes from “wanting everything” while also wanting to be genuine Christians. Materialism is like an octopus, its slimy tentacles always tightening their grip on us. We really want to serve God but we also want what everyone else has, often long before we can afford it. Finally, we must realize and admit that integrity has its price for us, as it did for Job.
It is important for us to recognize, as we study the Book of Job, that we are not limited to this one book in grappling with issues of integrity in everyday life. Our study of Job can be helpful even though this book raises questions that are not easy to answer.
We should be thankful for the marvelous advantage we have over Job. When people falsely accuse us, as Job’s friends accused him, we can ask the Holy Spirit to empower us to respond to our accusers in love.
We can confess our sins and know the inward joy of receiving God’s gracious forgiveness. We can trust the Holy Spirit to teach us the answers to our hard questions. We can depend on the Holy Spirit to guide us into “all truth” and to strengthen us to honor Christ in daily living rather than yield to temptation.
We can walk in the light, holding the hand of the One who is the light of the world, and avoid stumbling pitifully in the darkness of rebellion. We can know, with greater certainty than even Job, that our Savior will never leave us nor depart from us.
As the songwriter put it, we can “walk with the Lord in the light of his Word.”
We can sing in daily life, “What a glory he sheds on our way! While we do his good will, He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey.” We can know a joy that Job could not know because we live on this side of the Resurrection. Hallelujah! + + + + (Walter may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)