Read Job 31:1-40
Defending Your Own Honor
You have likely heard the expression, “Action speaks louder than words.” In fact, Peter encouraged his readers to live with “a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed” (1 Peter 3:16). There are times, however, that we must speak up in defense against such defamations, and that is what happens in Job 31.
Job declares his innocence in sexual situations. “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?” (Job 31:1), going so far as to say that if he has been unfaithful to his wife, she has every right (in his judgment, at least) to do the same (Job 31:9-12). Jesus warned that we must protect ourselves against sexual impurity, hyperbolically saying that one should cut off the temptation at the root (Matthew 18:8-9).
Job proclaimed his honesty. “If I have walked with falsehood, or if my foot has hastened to deceit, let me be weighed on honest scales, that God may know my integrity” (Job 31:5-6). Even in his business dealings, Job held on to his integrity. “If my land cries out against me, and its furrows weep together; if I have eaten its fruits without money, or caused its owners to lose their lives; then let thistles grow instead of wheat, and weeds instead of barley” (Job 31:38-40). He did not want to be unfair, and recognized that there should be consequences for one’s dishonest dealings.
He also asserts that he is fair toward his servants (Job 31:13-15), generous toward those in need (Job 31:16-23), and good even to his enemies (Job 31:29-37). Indeed, the Scriptures state, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). This is not a command that we are obligated to obey only toward those who are friendly toward us. Rather, it is for “all”—even and especially those we perceive as enemies. Did our Lord not say, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you” (Luke 6:27-28)?
Above all else, though, Job was faithful to the Almighty (Job 31:24-28). He did not worship his wealth or nature. “This also would be an iniquity deserving of judgment, for I would have denied God who is above” (Job 31:28). Job was not perfect, but he was an honorable man.