Dr. Mark Scott wrote this treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson. Scott teaches preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri. This lesson treatment is published in the May 2020 issue of Christian Standard + The Lookout. (Subscribe to our print edition.)
Application: “Time to Adjust the Seat,” by David Faust
Lesson Aim: Seek and embrace integrity through consistent acts of love.
By Mark Scott
Integrity is a subject of much discussion today—perhaps because there is so little of it. It means living an undivided life. It means doing what you say. It centers on consistency. It means you are the same person holding a Communion tray on Sunday morning as you are holding a remote control on Saturday night. Job had it. The writer told us this from the start (Job 1:1). While Job was not perfect, he was “blameless” (31:6—the same word also translated as “integrity”). To live a life you know God would honor need not show up as arrogance.
The Assertion of Integrity | Job 27:1-6
Before Job’s youngest friend Elihu spoke (Job 32), Job gave his last defense to his other three friends (Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad). This defense is contained in chapters 26–31. Parts of it may seem like pride and a bitter man getting in his last shots against God. But there is an assertion of integrity here that actually is not just Job’s best assessment of himself but an honest exposure of his motives to live the way God wanted him to live.
Job deeply felt as if God had denied him (taken away) justice. Like Naomi, he felt as if God had made his life bitter (Ruth 1:20 and Job 3:20; 7:11; 10:1; 23:2). When we strive to do right and bad things happen to us anyway, we inevitably feel this way. As long as God gave Job breath (the same word for “Spirit”) he would strive for integrity.
Job asserted his integrity in lip and heart. Of course, the heart and tongue are inextricably linked (Matthew 12:34-37). His speech would not be anything wicked. His tongue would not utter lies (anything deceitful or full of guile). He refused to cave in to his friends’ accusations. (The “you” is plural in verse 5.) Job felt bound to maintain his innocence (right or righteousness) and not let it go. His conscience (heart) was not convicting him because he strove to do right. Integrity can be asserted without pride.
The Evidence of Integrity | Job 31:5, 6, 16-23
Few people can claim the things Job claimed in chapter 31. No wonder God thought so highly of Job (Ezekiel 14:20). Even though Job’s wife cried out for Job to curse God (Job 2:9—remember that as a mother, she had felt the losses too, so can we blame her?), he remained incredibly loyal to her. He remembered he made a covenant with his eyes to her when they married (31:1). He even asserted that if he had “lurked at my neighbor’s door” (31:9), God could cause someone else to have her (i.e., “bow down on her”).
There was no distance between Job’s walk and his talk. His words and deeds were a perfect match (1 John 3:18). He was willing for God to weigh him in the scales of justice if he had walked with falsehood or hurried after deceit. This consistency of life showed up in how he cared for the poor, the widow, and the orphan. When they were in need of food, Job did not deny them. The poor had deep desires, the widows (i.e., silent ones) grew weary, and the orphans needed a dad. Job claimed that even from his youth he was conscious of the needs of the fatherless and the husbandless.
It was not just with food that Job concerned himself. He also supplied clothing to the needy. In the Ancient Near East clothing was viewed much like shelter. If anyone was perishing (destroyed or exterminated) or needy due to lack of clothing, Job made sure to shear his sheep and give the needy the wool for a covering. It is hard to miss the parallels of these things in Jesus’ own teaching (Matthew 25:31-46). But Job’s help went beyond food and clothing. He spoke for those who had no voice. He defended them in court (literally the “gates” of the city).
Earlier in the chapter, Job had challenged God to weigh him with honest scales to confirm his integrity. Now he claimed that if he had misspoken or misrepresented himself that God would cause his arm to fall from his shoulder or be broken off at the joint (socket). Job did all these things because he feared God and was captured by God’s splendor (highness or exaltation). Giving evidence of one’s integrity does seem like boasting about one’s humility, but it certainly was not wide of the mark for one person (Matthew 11:29, 30).
Lesson study ©2019, Christian Standard Media. Print and digital subscribers are permitted to make one print copy per week of lesson material for personal use. Lesson based on the scope and sequence, ©2019 by Christian Standard Media. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.