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Job 31The Message (MSG)

What Can I Expect from God?

31 1-4 “I made a solemn pact with myself
    never to undress a girl with my eyes.
So what can I expect from God?
    What do I deserve from God Almighty above?
Isn’t calamity reserved for the wicked?
    Isn’t disaster supposed to strike those who do wrong?
Isn’t God looking, observing how I live?
    Doesn’t he mark every step I take?

5-8 “Have I walked hand in hand with falsehood,
    or hung out in the company of deceit?
Weigh me on a set of honest scales
    so God has proof of my integrity.
If I’ve strayed off the straight and narrow,
    wanted things I had no right to,
    messed around with sin,
Go ahead, then—
    give my portion to someone who deserves it.

9-12 “If I’ve let myself be seduced by a woman
    and conspired to go to bed with her,
Fine, my wife has every right to go ahead
    and sleep with anyone she wants to.
For disgusting behavior like that,
    I’d deserve the worst punishment you could hand out.
Adultery is a fire that burns the house down;
    I wouldn’t expect anything I count dear to survive it.

13-15 “Have I ever been unfair to my employees
    when they brought a complaint to me?
What, then, will I do when God confronts me?
    When God examines my books, what can I say?
Didn’t the same God who made me, make them?
    Aren’t we all made of the same stuff, equals before God?

16-18 “Have I ignored the needs of the poor,
    turned my back on the indigent,
Taken care of my own needs and fed my own face
    while they languished?
Wasn’t my home always open to them?
    Weren’t they always welcome at my table?

19-20 “Have I ever left a poor family shivering in the cold
    when they had no warm clothes?
Didn’t the poor bless me when they saw me coming,
    knowing I’d brought coats from my closet?

21-23 “If I’ve ever used my strength and influence
    to take advantage of the unfortunate,
Go ahead, break both my arms,
    cut off all my fingers!
The fear of God has kept me from these things—
    how else could I ever face him?

If Only Someone Would Give Me a Hearing!

24-28 “Did I set my heart on making big money
    or worship at the bank?
Did I boast about my wealth,
    show off because I was well-off?
Was I ever so awed by the sun’s brilliance
    and moved by the moon’s beauty
That I let myself become seduced by them
    and worshiped them on the sly?
If so, I would deserve the worst of punishments,
    for I would be betraying God himself.

29-30 “Did I ever crow over my enemy’s ruin?
    Or gloat over my rival’s bad luck?
No, I never said a word of detraction,
    never cursed them, even under my breath.

31-34 “Didn’t those who worked for me say,
    ‘He fed us well. There were always second helpings’?
And no stranger ever had to spend a night in the street;
    my doors were always open to travelers.
Did I hide my sin the way Adam did,
    or conceal my guilt behind closed doors
Because I was afraid what people would say,
    fearing the gossip of the neighbors so much
That I turned myself into a recluse?
    You know good and well that I didn’t.

35-37 “Oh, if only someone would give me a hearing!
    I’ve signed my name to my defense—let the
        Almighty One answer!
    I want to see my indictment in writing.
Anyone’s welcome to read my defense;
    I’ll write it on a poster and carry it around town.
I’m prepared to account for every move I’ve ever made—
    to anyone and everyone, prince or pauper.

38-40 “If the very ground that I farm accuses me,
    if even the furrows fill with tears from my abuse,
If I’ve ever raped the earth for my own profit
    or dispossessed its rightful owners,
Then curse it with thistles instead of wheat,
    curse it with weeds instead of barley.”

The words of Job to his three friends were finished.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Job 32The Message (MSG)

Elihu Speaks

God’s Spirit Makes Wisdom Possible

32 1-5 Job’s three friends now fell silent. They were talked out, stymied because Job wouldn’t budge an inch—wouldn’t admit to an ounce of guilt. Then Elihu lost his temper. (Elihu was the son of Barakel the Buzite from the clan of Ram.) He blazed out in anger against Job for pitting his righteousness against God’s. He was also angry with the three friends because they had neither come up with an answer nor proved Job wrong. Elihu had waited with Job while they spoke because they were all older than he. But when he saw that the three other men had exhausted their arguments, he exploded with pent-up anger.

6-10 This is what Elihu, son of Barakel the Buzite, said:

“I’m a young man,
    and you are all old and experienced.
That’s why I kept quiet
    and held back from joining the discussion.
I kept thinking, ‘Experience will tell.
    The longer you live, the wiser you become.’
But I see I was wrong—it’s God’s Spirit in a person,
    the breath of the Almighty One, that makes wise human insight possible.
The experts have no corner on wisdom;
    getting old doesn’t guarantee good sense.
So I’ve decided to speak up. Listen well!
    I’m going to tell you exactly what I think.

11-14 “I hung on your words while you spoke,
    listened carefully to your arguments.
While you searched for the right words,
    I was all ears.
And now what have you proved? Nothing.
    Nothing you say has even touched Job.
And don’t excuse yourselves by saying, ‘We’ve done our best.
    Now it’s up to God to talk sense into him.’
Job has yet to contend with me.
    And rest assured, I won’t be using your arguments!

15-22 “Do you three have nothing else to say?
    Of course you don’t! You’re total frauds!
Why should I wait any longer,
    now that you’re stopped dead in your tracks?
I’m ready to speak my piece. That’s right!
    It’s my turn—and it’s about time!
I’ve got a lot to say,
    and I’m bursting to say it.
The pressure has built up, like lava beneath the earth.
    I’m a volcano ready to blow.
I have to speak—I have no choice.
    I have to say what’s on my heart,
And I’m going to say it straight—
    the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
I was never any good at bootlicking;
    my Maker would make short work of me if I started in now!”

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Galatians 5The Message (MSG)

The Life of Freedom

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.

2-3 I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ’s hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law.

4-6 I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.

7-10 You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place. And please don’t toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread. Deep down, the Master has given me confidence that you will not defect. But the one who is upsetting you, whoever he is, will bear the divine judgment.

11-12 As for the rumor that I continue to preach the ways of circumcision (as I did in those pre-Damascus Road days), that is absurd. Why would I still be persecuted, then? If I were preaching that old message, no one would be offended if I mentioned the Cross now and then—it would be so watered-down it wouldn’t matter one way or the other. Why don’t these agitators, obsessive as they are about circumcision, go all the way and castrate themselves!

13-15 It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?

16-18 My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?

19-21 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.

22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

23-24 Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.

25-26 Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Galatians 6The Message (MSG)

Nothing but the Cross

1-3 Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.

4-5 Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

Be very sure now, you who have been trained to a self-sufficient maturity, that you enter into a generous common life with those who have trained you, sharing all the good things that you have and experience.

7-8 Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.

9-10 So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.

11-13 Now, in these last sentences, I want to emphasize in the bold scrawls of my personal handwriting the immense importance of what I have written to you. These people who are attempting to force the ways of circumcision on you have only one motive: They want an easy way to look good before others, lacking the courage to live by a faith that shares Christ’s suffering and death. All their talk about the law is gas. They themselves don’t keep the law! And they are highly selective in the laws they do observe. They only want you to be circumcised so they can boast of their success in recruiting you to their side. That is contemptible!

14-16 For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate. Can’t you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do—submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life! All who walk by this standard are the true Israel of God—his chosen people. Peace and mercy on them!

17 Quite frankly, I don’t want to be bothered anymore by these disputes. I have far more important things to do—the serious living of this faith. I bear in my body scars from my service to Jesus.

18 May what our Master Jesus Christ gives freely be deeply and personally yours, my friends. Oh, yes!

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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