The Riches No Bank Can Hold
“Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart” —Job 22:21, 22, NIV.
Taken at face value this verse sounds like perfectly good advice. The words were spoken by Eliphaz to his friend, Job, while Job was going through the ultimate in hard times.
The advice, good though most of it is, contains a misconception. Job’s friends were trying to convince him that he needed to repent of his sins if he expected God to restore to him all that he had lost. None of the men knew that what was happening to Job had nothing to do any sin Job might have committed.
Job had lost everything: family, possessions, health. It was logical to assume that all this disaster was because of something Job had done to offend God. In fact, all this was a test—a battle between God and Satan through which God was going to show Satan that some people won’t sin, and turn their backs on God, even when you hit them with the worst of circumstances.
The misconception comes in the phrase “in this way prosperity will come to you.” Job’s friends urged him to repent so that he could be rich again, as though riches were the reward of confession rather than forgiveness. This misconception continues today. How often do we think that appeasing God is the first step to health, wealth, and success? Forgiveness of sins, peace with God, eternal hope, aren’t enough for some of us, even though these gifts are the greatest riches of all.
However, even though Eliphaz was giving this advice to the wrong man and even though he had no idea what the real issue behind Job’s tragedy was about, the bulk of the words he spoke are true. When we submit to God, when sin is confessed and the relationship is restored between us and God, peace reigns. Listening to what God says, taking heed to it and taking it to heart, is the perfect path to satisfaction in life whether that life comes with poverty or bounty, or something in between.
There is a prosperity of soul that no material reward can ever replace. There is a divine relationship that no human tie can match. The ultimate satisfaction is a spiritual one.