by Stephen Garrett
In America today, performance often drives our self-worth and self-image. In business, men and women are constantly being evaluated on their performance. Did they exceed last quarter's sales? Can they operate more efficiently for less money? Military leaders evaluate every soldier's performance and potential. If a soldier does not meet a certain level of expectation, then they do not receive the next level recognition, whether it is the next highest rank, award, or assignment. This underlying theme of achievement has now spread into our measurements of people. We have come to value people based on their accomplishments, not on their worth as a human being.
Unfortunately, there is a current trend in the nation that suggests that as long as we are prosperous, it does not matter the road we take to achieve those accomplishments. The ends justify the means. We measure success by the amount of money in our stock portfolios, what kind of cars we drive, what size of homes we live in, and what kind of toys we play with. So how much is enough? I am not suggesting that any of these things are inherently evil. Evil is found in the love of these things. However, when success is measured by achievements, we may for a season "feel" a sense of pride, but eventually, we will have a hollow life that lacks meaning and hope. We will never be able to attain enough.
So, how do we measure a man? A contemporary Christian music group named "4 Him" suggests in their song by that title, that the "The Measure of a Man" has nothing to do with how tall we stand, how intelligent we are, how much wealth we have, but rather by what is found within the heart.
I want to tell you a story about a man who had it all. He had everything that a person could possibly want. He had a large family-seven sons and three daughters. He had many servants and possessions. Some of his possessions included 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. His name was the greatest among men of his day. His name was Job.
One day, Job was sitting in his home and a messenger came to tell of disaster that had struck the cattle in the fields surrounding his eldest son's home. While that messenger was speaking, another servant came and told of a disaster that consumed another portion of his livestock in the fields. Yet a third messenger came to tell Job of even more hardship. His sons and daughters died in a freak accident. Job had gone from the most renowned public figure to a man of despair. He had lost it all. If that was not enough, Job's own health began to decline. He had boils from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. His only remaining family member, his wife, even incited him to curse God by saying, "Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!" (Job 2:9)
Nevertheless, Job did not blame God for his circumstances. Instead, in the midst of his despondency, Job fell to the ground and worshipped God. The Bible says, "Job did not sin nor did he blame God." (Job 1:22) In the pages of Scripture, we find Job crying out to God asking and pleading with Him to bring some sort of insight or understanding as to why these events had taken place. Yet, God seemed to remain a distant figure. In the process of his lamenting, Job's character was forged through the accusations, rebukes, and exhortations of his friends. Finally, Job began to realize that though he had a glorious past, his integrity had remained through these trials.
"Let Him weigh me with accurate scales, And let God know my integrity. If I have put my confidence in gold, and called fine gold my trust, if I have gloated because my wealth was great, and because my hand had secured much.that too would have been an iniquity calling for judgement, for I would have denied God above." (Job 31:6, 24-25,28)
Job measured himself. ".weigh me with accurate scales." He knew that his confidence was not in gold or his wealth. His confidence was in his relationship with Almighty God. His integrity had remained even when he had lost it all.
In the closing chapters of the Book of Job, God revealed himself to Job through a whirlwind by vividly describing His mighty power: "Have you ever commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it? . Have you entered into the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?. Have you understood the expanse of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this? " (Job 38:12-13, 16,18)
Job obviously was humbled by God's response to his cries for understanding. Job reached a point in his walk with God that he had never experienced before. Because of his trials and his reliance upon God, Job gained a fuller and deeper understanding of the nature and character of his Lord. At the end of God's discourse with Job, Job confessed, "I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore, I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me which I did not know. Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:1-6)
Notice in Job's confession what had changed. He had heard of God by his ears. He had learned from the prophets, he had learned from the oral traditions of the priests, but now through his circumstances, his urgent pleas for understanding, Job received the presence of God. Not in a literal sense, but in his heart.
So what do we find within the heart of Job? We find the presence of God. We find that Job maintained his integrity before God throughout his character-building circumstances. We see a man who chose the harder right over the easier wrong. He could have easily decided to blame everyone else for his problems. He could have even blamed God for his situation. However, we find a man who did not measure himself by his possessions or wealth but by what was found in his heart.
How do you measure yourself? Are you constantly keeping track of all your accumulated wealth? Are you more concerned with attaining the next level of responsibility than spending time with your family? How much is enough? Do you have the integrity of Job? When you look into your heart, do you find the presence of God? Do you find yourself relying more on your own abilities than the strength of God?
There is only one way to remedy these problems. It is said, "The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart." Jesus Christ came to give a heart transplant to those who would repent and turn from their sin and believe in Him. Success is not found in our possessions or achievements but what is found within our hearts.
LEADERS OF CHARACTER is published monthly and is available free to anyone who requests it at www.faithwalkministries.com.
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