When God confronted the devil with the faithful example of Job, Satan relegated the man’s faithfulness to be solely due to God placing a hedge around him (Job 1:9-10). While it is true that God blessed Job, the hedge of God’s providence was not, as the devil suggested, impassable. God showed this by allowing the devil to remove Job’s blessings (Job 1:12). When Satan took all of his children and possessions away from him in one day, Job could have charged God foolishly, but he didn’t (Job 1:21-22). When on a later occasion Satan robbed Job of his health, Job could have followed the advice of his wife to curse God and die, but he didn’t (Job 2:9-10).
Job, as all men, had a choice in his reaction to suffering. Trials and temptations do not take away our volition. If we had no say in how we react to Satan’s onslaughts, then where would be the virtue in resisting temptation? The truth is God places a protective hedge around all of His children (1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Tim. 1:12; Jude 24). We, however, can choose to go over the hedge to follow the allurements of sin, or stay within the confines of God’s grace (Acts 13:43). God expects us to choose the way of escape He provides (1 Cor. 10:13). It is the balance of both of these truths that causes us to realize how Jude 21, “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life,” is in complete harmony with verse 24, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” We keep ourselves in the love of God, who keeps us from falling.
This realization of God’s protective care should cause all of us to be thankful. What grim fates and heartaches has the Lord spared you from? Only He knows. Be thankful and trust in Him (Prov. 3:5-6). When all of what Job held dear was removed, he still maintained his trust in the Lord. In Job 13:15 he declared, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” Would you and I maintain our devotion while bereft of what we hold dearest? We hope and pray that we would be like Job.
Concentrate on the good things God has given. His goodness leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). When we neglect to acknowledge God and be thankful for what He does for us, then we go over the hedge (Rom. 1:21). Those described in Romans 1 who turned their backs on God, went over the hedge. Is it any wonder that we find “God gave them up” (Rom. 1:24, 26), and did not continue His providential attempts to keep them faithful? God will work with us as long as we work with Him, but when we are bent on sin, then the only recourse is for us to hit rock bottom until we again realize our need for Him.
-by Mark Day