News Articles

Prof draws insight from Job into integrity, selflessness, commitment

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Can God trust you?
If so, you represent an exception created only in the lives of those who possess integrity, selflessness and an unshakable commitment to God, said Terry Wilder, visiting professor of New Testament and Greek at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Speaking during a Feb. 5 chapel service at the Kansas City, Mo., seminary, Wilder urged students to learn from the example of Job, whose moral and spiritual character was such that God could confidently trust him.
Wilder currently is a doctor of philosophy candidate with the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He has previously taught in the extension program of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, and at Criswell College, Dallas.
Wilder began by noting Job’s integrity in his pious devotion to God. Citing Job 1:1, Wilder said Job’s reverent fear of God led him to live an upright and blameless life, turning away from evil. Likewise, Job maintained integrity in his prosperity, although the wealth described in Job 1:2-3 could have tempted him to do otherwise.
“At a time when it would have been very easy for Job to let materialism be his God, he had a proper perspective,” Wilder said.
Job also demonstrated integrity in the spiritual leadership of his home, Wilder said, calling attention to the sacrifices Job offered on behalf of his children in Job 1:5.
“Job went to great spiritual pains and took great measures to make sure his family was in a right relationship with the Lord,” Wilder said. “He acted as high priest in this family. He sacrificed to God and made atonement for his children’s sin. What a legacy.”
Wilder mentioned how, like Job, his wife, Denise, had exercised personal integrity when in a work setting she refused to join others in breaking a commitment. Such events can be the true test of integrity, he noted.
“Sometimes the most difficult word in the world to pronounce is not ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’ or ‘Constantinople’ or ‘perambulate,’ explained Wilder. “It’s ‘No.'”
Wilder went on to stress the importance of integrity despite contrary popular sentiment.
“We live in a day and a time when tolerance of things immoral is the new virtue, the new watchword, and we’re being told from every angle that integrity is not important, that integrity doesn’t matter,” Wilder said. “The Word of God tells us that it does matter. Integrity is everything.”
Such disregard for integrity has infected the church as well, he declared.
“Unfortunately, lack of integrity has also permeated the church, even amongst ministers,” Wilder lamented. “Somewhere along the line we’ve gotten the misconception that you can be called of God to preach this precious gospel, and that it doesn’t matter a bit what your personal life is like.
“Integrity and God’s call converge with one another, they agree with one another,” Wilder explained. “They don’t diverge and go their separate ways.”
For those who wish to cultivate integrity, Wilder suggested asking God for integrity, and then purposely cultivating a relationship with him through prayer and Bible study. Accountability relationships also are vital in maintaining integrity, he suggested.
“Make yourself accountable to others,” Wilder admonished. “I think this is where some Christian leaders in the past have fallen. They get to a place where they think they’re no longer accountable to anybody. They themselves in their minds become God.
“It’s a good idea to meet regularly with someone and have them ask you some probing questions,” Wilder offered. “‘How’s your quiet time? How’s your family life? How are things going with you and the Lord? How’s your church involvement?'”
Besides having integrity, those whom God trusts demonstrate a selfless devotion God and his purposes, Wilder said. He pointed out how in Job 1:9-11 Satan suggested Job only served God because of the attendant blessings. Job’s response in loss, however, showed the selflessness of his devotion. Wilder then asked listeners to examine the level of selflessness in their own lives.
“Let me ask you: Why do you serve God?” Wilder asked. “Do you serve God for what you can get out of him? Or do you serve him out of love and devotion?
“If your primary aim or ambition in life is to pastor at all costs a large church, or to become top dog in the convention, you are not selfless in your motives. You are not like our Lord. Your agenda is to further your career. Your agenda is to further yourself, when it should be to serve Christ and his agenda, making disciples, proclaiming him to others, preaching Christ and him crucified.”
Finally, Wilder called attention to Job’s unshakable commitment to God in the midst of devastating loss, as described in Job 1:13-21. He said the divine perspective demonstrated by Job in this circumstance recently was brought home during a visit to the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.
“I was particularly moved by the account given by an eyewitness to the execution of a Jewish family who were executed and subsequently buried in mass graves simply for being Jewish,” Wilder recounted. “He said that, when facing death, this Jewish couple, their 10-year-old and their 1-year-old didn’t cry for mercy, they didn’t plead for help, they didn’t beg for their executioners not to kill them. Rather, the wife held the 1-year-old, and the baby was softly gooing, and she tickled him, and the baby laughed. The father was speaking gently to his 10-year-old boy. The 10-year-old was crying softly, the father was comforting him. The boy looked at him, and the father pointed toward heaven.
This family, like Job, had a divine perspective that God was sovereign and in control of life’s circumstances, Wilder said. “As I read that, I thought to myself: As a Christian, would I, or would I and my family, be able to face such tragedy and such dire circumstances with the same divine perspective, with the same unshakability as these people did, and as Job did?”

    About the Author

  • Clinton Wolf