Will a Man Serve God for Naught?        

TEXT: Job 1:6-9        
Did Job serve God for naught?
This is not a bad question.
Why does a man serve God?
This is a question Job had to face.
This is a question you and I need to face.

I. Will a man serve God when he is immersed in suffering?

(a) I don't suppose there's ever been a man in history who suffered like Job.
He knew the pangs of poverty.
He lost all his possessions suddenly and tragically.
Like the crash of the world's greatest stock market, suddenly all that he had was swept away from him.
He lost his family, too.
Now a man can get along pretty well when the world crashes in around him if there is a place
of comfort and solace where he can call his own to his side to find strength.
But Job lost that, too.

(b) Job knew the pangs of physical pain.
Job was afflicted with some ancient and loathsome disease that left him scratching his itching
and miserable body until the blood ran out of his sores.
Think of it! From prosperity to poverty.
From a wonderful family to utter loneliness.
He lost all -- even his health.
Will a man serve God for naught? What would happen to job's faith now?

(c) The devil was saying to God, in effect, "Take away what you give to this man and he will curse you.
He will no longer serve you
."
I fear the devil would be right about a lot of persons, but was he right about job?
Job questioned and grew impatient; but the Scripture says that when all of this happened,
he tore his mantle and shaved his head and fell down on the ground and worshiped God.
And in all this Job sinned not nor charged God foolishly.

ll. Will a man serve God when he is bereft of his friends?

(a) One of life's most blessed possessions is friends.
In the Bible, the glory of personal intimate friendship is displayed.
Will a man serve God, though, when he doesn't have any friends?
Sometimes a person who serves God has to stand alone.
Daniel stood virtually alone in the midst of a pagan nation.
Noah built his ark while people laughed at him and mocked him.
There's a lonely stance in the word of Martin Luther as he said, "Here I stand, I can do no other.
God help me."

(b) Jesus knew loneliness when the crowd mocked him and his own did not understand him
and virtually deserted him as they walked far behind him.
The truth is that when a man is devoted to God and to truth, there are times in his life
when he has to stand terribly alone.
Will a man serve God when he has to stand without any friends?

(c) Job lost his friends too.
They came and sat and looked at him, and then they accused him of being a terrible sinner.
They increased Job's suffering to the extent that he said, "Even my friends scourge me."
The devil suggested that a man will not serve God if God takes away from him his friends,
his blessings, what he gives him.
He may have been right about many persons, but was he right about Job?

III. Will a man serve God when God is silent?

(a) I think the darkest suffering of job's experience was the silence of God.
For the darkest experience that any of us will face is in that hour when God seems to be silent,
when He doesn't seem to care.
Oh, if God had just answered job's questions, if God had just intervened between him
and his friends to answer the criticism of his friends!
But though Job wished he were dead, though he cried out unto God by day and by night,
though he asked God, "Give me some advocate that can stand between you and me
and draw us together
,"
God evidently was silent.
There isn't any suffering like the silence of God.

(b) The silence of God was one of the great issues at Calvary.
When Jesus bore ours ins and carried our sorrows, suddenly the sun began to hide its face;
and the shadows of the blackest darkness of the world covered the skies.
There were only the shrieks and the curses and the tears of the people at the foot of the cross.
There was only that anguished cry, "My God, my God, why?"
It seemed that God did not or could not speak, as if he were blind and could not see the plight of his own,
as if he were helpless and could not move to save him.
Will a man serve God when God is silent?

(c) As the German preacher Thielicke put it, "Often the silence of God is God's higher thought."
For suddenly God spoke to job.
But will you notice, he didn't answer any of job's questions.
He didn't explain the mystery of suffering.
Rather he underlined his sovereignty as the mighty God as he said to Job, "Who is this
that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Hath the rain a father?
Who provideth for the raven his food? Hast thou given the horse strength?
Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook
?"

Suddenly, Job realized that it is not God who must give an account unto man.
It is we who have to give an account unto God.

(d) So here is the end of it.
You cannot judge God always by circumstance.
Sometimes we have to come to the border of human despair before we learn that; because as long
as we are great in our own eyes, until we become little, we can never see the greatness of God.

IV. Here is the end of the matter.
A man ought not ever to serve God for what he gets out of God.
A man ought to serve God for the sake of God himself.
It is because we love God, it is because we want to give our best to God that we must serve him
without interruption in spite of the circumstances of life.

I admonish you in the midst of trial, in the midst of disappointments, to put your hand
in the hand of God and march on.

Will you serve God for nothing?
You ought to!
We ought to even rejoice in our tribulations, knowing that "tribulations worketh patience,
and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope needeth not to be ashamed,
for the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given unto us."

-- Sermon by Dr. Gordon Clinard, former professor Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, now in heaven.
"Dr. Clinard was my professor in Homelitics, and had a profound influence on my life and ministry.
It is to honor him who honored God, that I add this sermon to Storehouse."
-- Dr. Harold L. White