Summary: Job's attitude toward himself forces us to wrestle with one of life's major issues, the issue of self-esteem. This is a complex issue because the whole world is in on it.
Cornelius Vanderbilt, the New York millionaire, back in 1853,
entered the Moon Lake Lodge as the talk of the town. The chef was
an Indian Chief named George Crum. He was one of the greatest
chefs, but even he could not know everything. So when Vanderbilt
ordered, what was then the newest craze from France, he was not
sure. French fries were a favorite of the elite. They were new,
exotic, and exclusive. When Vanderbilt's plate came, he complained
that the fries were to thick. He had just been to France where they
were much thinner. They were returned to the kitchen.
The chef was not surprised. The well-to-do were often fussy.
However, when the next batch was also returned he was irritated.
George took his knife and sharpened it to a razor like edge. He
grabbed a potato and sliced it paper thin. He dipped them into
boiling fat, and when they were crisp he delivered them to the
Vanderbilt table himself. It was done to insult him, but when
Vanderbilt tasted it he liked it, and believe it or not, that angry chef
had created a new dish that became a world wide favorite-the potato
chip. Had an Indian chef never gotten angry at a millionaire, who
he thought was a fussy snob, none of us may have ever heard of, or
eaten, a Potato chip.
Conflict often leads to values that none of the parties involved
could ever foresee, for that was certainly not their intention. We see
it in the book of Job with a heated conflict he is having with his
friends. They are aggravating and provoking him, and he is coming
back with answers that reveal, that as miserable as he is, he has not
lost his sense of self-esteem. He hates what has happened to him,
and he loathes his sickness, and his sores, yet he has such a high
view of himself that he refuses to submit to the pressure of his
friends. You might say this is a sign of his pride and stubbornness to
keep up this role of self-assertion. This could be a sign that Job was
a sinful man after all, but not so! The fact is, it is his high sense of
self-esteem, and his determined self-assertion that made him the
man God had such confidence in. A man with weak self-esteem
would never have been allowed by God to go through such a test.
One of the values of this book is that it makes us aware of the
importance of self-esteem. We could live without potato chips, but
none can live as God intended without self-esteem.
Job is dogmatic in his self-defense. He will never, as long as he
lives, and has a breathe, deny his integrity. There is no compromise
here. Job knows he is not a wicked sinner being punished. It is
injustice, and he will never give in to this injustice, and bow before
it. You can call Job one of the most stubborn men who ever lived, or
you can call him one who knew the great value of self-esteem. What
we see here in chapter 27 runs all through the book.
10:7 Job says to God you know I am not guilty.
12:3 Job says to his friends I am not inferior to you.
12:4 Job says I am righteous and blameless.
13:18 Job says I know I will be vindicated.
16:27 Job says my prayer is pure.
Many would look at all of these self-evaluations, and conclude
with Job's friends, he is proud, conceited, and just to stubborn and
self-centered to admit when he is wrong. Job's attitude toward
himself forces us to wrestle with one of life's major issues, the issue
of self-esteem. This is a complex issue because the whole world is in
on it. The public is exposed to many books on self-assertion and
self-esteem. The cult of self worship is one of the largest, and is a
natural fruit of the growth of humanism in our culture.
This can lead to the Christian becoming confused, for it often
seems like the world is saying the same thing as the church, and yet
there are radical differences. The church has been telling youth for
decades to develop self-esteem. They are taught slogans in Youth
For Christ and Young Life that say they are made by God as one of
a kind, and of infinite value, and God never makes junk. Dr. James
Dobson is telling Christian parents that developing a high sense of
self-esteem is the key to their healthy future, and Christian maturity.
But along with this stream of influence there is another stream of
tradition that is quite pessimistic about the self.
Christians through the ages have felt that it is a logical step from