Summary: Integrity is a topic that is seen loosely by many. Is God serious about Integrity?
A new beginning with Integrity
How many of you watch movies? How many of you prefer the “Happy ending” movies than the tragic ending movies? Most of us prefer “Happy Endings” right? Those of you who have followed the last episode of Harry Potter Book and the movie that followed should know this. There was heavy suspense on how the serial will end. Will it be a sad ending? Will the author (J K Rowling) “Kill” Harry Potter and will the evil Lord Voldemort triumph? But for all that suspense, the serial finally had a Happy Ending, where Harry Potter triumphs over his arch enemy Lord Voldemort. This is the case in many movies. There are cases where the entire story has been changed to ensure a “Happy ending” for the movie to make sure that it becomes a box office success.
For many of us who are well versed with the book of Job, we know that in spite of all the trouble that Job goes through, the ending is good. It is a Happy Ending. After all, Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 7:8. "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof”. So when we read the book of Job, we are not thinking really about the trials that Job goes through, our mind already has the Happy Ending in mind. However, today I am not going to preach on the Happy Ending of the book of Job. I am forcing you to think in the middle somewhere, not at the happy ending, but during the time of the trails and troubles that Job goes through.
I am sure all of us know the story of Job. The story line of Job is simple. Job, a blameless worshiper of God, experiences a series of devastating tragedies. Three friends come to comfort him, but end up arguing that since God is good Job must have done something terrible to deserve his intense suffering. Job refutes them and in the process points to injustices God permits in His world. A young observer suggests that God may have other purposes in suffering than to punish. Then God Himself speaks to Job. The Lord gives no reason for what has happened to Job, but Job realizes he must submit to God rather than question Him. Job is restored and his three pious friends, who have so forcefully defended God, are rebuked by the Lord. Job goes on to live a long and blessed life.
Let us look at what the three friends and the fourth young observer think about Job.
• Eliphaz: He comes as a comforter who sees Job as a good man. However his reasoning for Job’s troubles is that Job might have gone astray. He might have done something wrong, he might have disobeyed God
• Bildad: Also a comforter who argues from traditional wisdom in his effort to prove that Job and his family got only what they deserved.
• Zophar: Yet another comforter who goes to the extreme of suggesting a solution to Job’s problems. He urges Job to repent or die the death that God reserves for the wicked.
• Elihu: A young observer who breaks the cycle of futile reasoning engaged in by Job and his three friends and prepares Job to hear a personal word from God.
Apart from Elihu who points Job in the right direction, all the other three so called friends of Job insist that Job must have done something terrible to deserve his intense suffering. In other words, they were questioning his integrity and were strongly suggesting that he must have sinned against God to deserve such a harsh punishment. They fairly and squarely put Job in the category of the wicked and the hypocrites. Have you ever had this experience? Have you had any of your so called friends or loved ones call you wicked and/or a hypocrite? Well, it certainly did happen to Job. This is where Job rises up to defend his integrity. That is the point that I would like us to look at today, Integrity. I would like us to reflect on Job’s views on Integrity.
Those of you who have heard me earlier on the topic of Servant Leadership might remember that Integrity is one of the key attributes of Servant Leadership that Jesus Christ demonstrated and asked all of us to follow. Integrity is also a hot topic now a days with Aam Aadmy Party winning the elections in New Delhi. How much difference that will make to corruption within the country is yet to be seen. However, everyone agrees that this is a good beginning, and there might still be hope for our country in the area of Integrity. I basically believe that the whole problem is more deep-rooted in our society. I often tell this story. The parents of a third standard student get called to the school principal’s office. Now, if you have or have had a school going child, and if you a get call from the principal’s office to come and meet, I know you will be very nervous, isn’t it? You would be worried as to what mischief your little one was upto, to get a call like that. So like any other parents, these parents also nervously go into the principal’s office, and sit anxiously to hear what she has to say. The principal informs the parents that their son has a problem. The child has the habit of stealing things like pencils, erasers, rulers, etc. from his classmates. The parents are shocked. Naturally. Anyone would be shocked isn’t it? The father tells the principal. “Madam, I am really surprised and shocked by this behaviour from my son. I don’t know why he should do this. You see, all that he needs, and much more than what he needs, I can bring from my office and give him.”