“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.” (Job 31:24-28)
Today we will probe the secret places of our hearts and lives—the man-caves and woman-caves, the places where we go to “be ourselves.” This statement holds a warning in its premise. Why do we need a special place to be ourselves? Why do we divide our lives into that which we are in public, with our family and co-workers verses the person we are when we are alone and no one is watching, especially when we know that God is always watching us. Why don’t we always live coram deo, in the face (or presence) of God? Let’s admit that we are hypocrites if we have any tendency whatsoever to divide our time or personalities into public and private.
Job understood the problem with a secret life. Here is a man who was exceedingly wealthy and blessed but had it all taken away (with his health) for reasons he could not know. We are told from the outset that he is an honorable man. “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1). But as Job engaged in self-examination he did not neglect examination of his heart and possibly secret desires. He truly lived in God’s presence, transparently and honestly with no self-deceit. Job knew that he would have been “false to God” if he had idolized his wealth, worshiped the sun and moon, or prided himself on his accomplishments as if they were not a gift from God.
John Gill writes,“When men covet riches, and trust in them as their security from evil…that they may live independent of the providence of God, it is virtually to deny [God], and carries in it secret atheism” (John Gill on Job 31:27). If we say and act like we worship only God, putting all our trust in him, but then secretly believe that having enough money will be our deliverance, we are “secret atheists.” If we worship the Lord in truth corporately on Sunday mornings and in Bible studies but feel that our lives are insufficient without the latest device or outfit, we are being false to God. Instead we should at least admit and confess those desires that have too strong a hold on us.
At our women’s Bible study today I asked a group of elderly women (all over the age of 80 except for me) if they are willing to change to be used by God to mentor younger women. One responded, “Absolutely not!” I was amazed by her honesty and transparency. I look forward to following up with her about why she is so adamant about not changing, since I know she is invested in the lives of women. If we, likewise, are so definite about not wanting to change, let’s at least confess this to the Lord and ask him to give us the desire to be more consistent and honest in our heart’s desires. God does not want secret or practical atheists but Christians who will grow in wisdom.