New Thoughts on the Giver
I taught high school English years ago. I taught British novels to Freshman and Sophomores and Shakespeare to Juniors and Seniors. They were, at the time, Great Expectations, Silas Marner, Julius Caesar, and Macbeth. I loved all English literature, and I thought the teaching was good, because I was passionate about it.
Years later, I have become wiser about life. I could now hit upon the pride in class in Great Expectations because I have been to England and have a much greater understanding of it. I could point out the eccentricity of Silas Marner, a very British characteristic. I now see the fear of the Romans of losing their precious republic that would cost Julius Ceasar, or the pattern of many kings who usurped the throne who made MacBeth a fool. I know more now about human nature, and I have traveled and have a far greater understanding of cultures and the particulars that exist in countries and cultures. I didn't do a bad job, but I could have done so much better.
I was thinking about givers and Job, and I realized some things that I didn't give enough weight to in my mind about givers. First, Job is a Jew. That is hugely significant, and I don't think I thought enough on that. He is a giver and a legalist. He is a good Jew who does everything he believes God wants, and he even compensates for his children's lack of obedience, should there be any. He believes in the law's ability to protect, if it is obeyed; and he has a healthy respect for God.
He doesn't know God, except through the reality of Judaism, and by that measure, he knows God. In fact, he fears Him and he obeys Him and though limited, he has some true knowledge. When Satan suggests that God test Job to see if he would stay obedient, God is not tripped up by the devious suggestion, or interested in seeing his beloved humiliated. Rather, I think he is about to give to Job a new depth of understanding that goes beyond his law abiding good Jew mentality. The experience, when Job is on the other side, is a gift. He is going to put a real heart of mercy and forgivenss and compassion in the giver's heart that has once been calculating, exacting, opportunistic, and self righteous.
Throughout the experience, Job is challenged in his deep giver belief system. Does God let the just suffer, and if so, why? To what end? And is God worthy of devotion without the perks? Is God fair and just? Does it pay to serve him?
Job was not just a giver himself, he was from a nation of givers. These folks often griped and wondered outloud if it was worth it to serve God? Were leeks and onions better than manna? Was slavery better than being homeless and wandering? Did tithes and offerings have a good return? These are not idelogical questions. They are giver questions about dividends. They are practical and they regard service, supply, and reward as the plumbline of good business practices.
How does God move Job from accounting over into relationship. How does he reward Job with intimate knowledge of himself and move him out of a business partnership? How does He empower him to become a man of prayer that changes things and people, instead of a good friend who is generous? It was the path of suffering.
Our gifts make us rich in some ways, and very poor in others. We can not bridge the gaps without help at times. Our strengths often become a liability somewhere along the way, and we are willing to surrender them in exchange for a better way. Job was better in the end. He was more compassionate, less self assured about his own righteousness. He was not in business with God in longer.
If there are things about your redemptive gift that you know need to be tempered, fortified, or overcome, think about Job. He didn't even know and yet God "fixed it."