Job 31 & 2 Corinthians 1

Job 31

    “I have made a covenant with my eyes;
        how then could I gaze at a virgin?
    What would be my portion from God above
        and my heritage from the Almighty on high?
    Is not calamity for the unrighteous,
        and disaster for the workers of iniquity?
    Does not he see my ways
        and number all my steps?
    “If I have walked with falsehood
        and my foot has hastened to deceit;
    (Let me be weighed in a just balance,
        and let God know my integrity!)
    if my step has turned aside from the way
        and my heart has gone after my eyes,
        and if any spot has stuck to my hands,
    then let me sow, and another eat,
        and let what grows for me be rooted out.
    “If my heart has been enticed toward a woman,
        and I have lain in wait at my neighbor's door,
    then let my wife grind for another,
        and let others bow down on her.
    For that would be a heinous crime;
        that would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges;
    for that would be a fire that consumes as far as Abaddon,
        and it would burn to the root all my increase.
    “If I have rejected the cause of my manservant or my maidservant,
        when they brought a complaint against me,
    what then shall I do when God rises up?
        When he makes inquiry, what shall I answer him?
    Did not he who made me in the womb make him?
        And did not one fashion us in the womb?
    “If I have withheld anything that the poor desired,
        or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail,
    or have eaten my morsel alone,
        and the fatherless has not eaten of it
    (for from my youth the fatherless grew up with me as with a father,
        and from my mother's womb I guided the widow),
    if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing,
        or the needy without covering,
    if his body has not blessed me,
        and if he was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep,
    if I have raised my hand against the fatherless,
        because I saw my help in the gate,
    then let my shoulder blade fall from my shoulder,
        and let my arm be broken from its socket.
    For I was in terror of calamity from God,
        and I could not have faced his majesty.
    “If I have made gold my trust
        or called fine gold my confidence,
    if I have rejoiced because my wealth was abundant
        or because my hand had found much,
    if I have looked at the sun when it shone,
        or the moon moving in splendor,
    and my heart has been secretly enticed,
        and my mouth has kissed my hand,
    this also would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges,
        for I would have been false to God above.
    “If I have rejoiced at the ruin of him who hated me,
        or exulted when evil overtook him
    (I have not let my mouth sin
        by asking for his life with a curse),
    if the men of my tent have not said,
        ‘Who is there that has not been filled with his meat?’
    (the sojourner has not lodged in the street;
        I have opened my doors to the traveler),
    if I have concealed my transgressions as others do
        by hiding my iniquity in my heart,
    because I stood in great fear of the multitude,
        and the contempt of families terrified me,
        so that I kept silence, and did not go out of doors—
    Oh, that I had one to hear me!
        (Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!)
        Oh, that I had the indictment written by my adversary!
    Surely I would carry it on my shoulder;
        I would bind it on me as a crown;
    I would give him an account of all my steps;
        like a prince I would approach him.
    “If my land has cried out against me
        and its furrows have wept together,
    if I have eaten its yield without payment
        and made its owners breathe their last,
    let thorns grow instead of wheat,
        and foul weeds instead of barley.”
        The words of Job are ended.

(Job 31 ESV)

2 Corinthians 1

    Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

    To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia:

    Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

    For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

    For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand—just as you did partially understand us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you.

    Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a second experience of grace. I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea. Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

    But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

(2 Corinthians 1 ESV)

2 Corinthians 1: The apostle Paul claims that he boasts in the testimony of his conscience. In his letter to the Ephesians, he tells us that our salvation is by grace through faith and not a result of our works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2). In his previous letter to the Corinthians, he quotes Old Testament Scripture telling us to “let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1). So what is he actually saying here? What does it mean to boast in the testimony of our conscience? 

It means that we have reason to rejoice when we discover ourselves actually becoming the very type of person that we proclaim the Christian to be. When we continually find ourselves behaving before a watching world with moral integrity and godly sincerity then we ought to boast in the beauty of living out what we have been elected to be - a people for God’s own possession who are zealous for good works (Titus 2). 

Why is this sort of boasting considered acceptable before our Lord who deserves all praise?

Because like the apostle tells us, we boast with full recognition that our transformed behavior is not a result of our own effort and earthly wisdom, but by the grace of God that powerfully has a way of making the impossible possible. When we consider our natural human sinfulness, we must acknowledge that there is no explanation for a consistent life of moral integrity and godly sincerity other than the way the gospel of Jesus Christ just seems to radically change people. And that is certainly worthy of our boasting and praise.