I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go;
my heart does not reproach me for any of my days. Job 27:6
Through the Bible: Job 24-28
Job 27:6 could be taken as really arrogant. Who holds onto their own righteousness like this? Who would dare to say with so much confidence that, “my heart does not reproach me for any of my days?”
“Any” of your days? What about that one time back in high school? What about that night when your parents were out of town? What about that one day you forgot to scan one of the items in your grocery cart?
How hard are you holding on to your righteousness now?
But Job’s confidence is in the character of God. Unlike the gods of the people around him, Job had confidence that his God could be known. That it was possible to know what it took to please God. That God did not punish or discipline for no reason. That He is not petty or capricious or whimsical or temperamental.
Remember, Job had been in the habit of offering sacrifices for each of his children the morning after a feast, just in case one of them had sinned the night before (Job 1:5). Job was more than willing to own his sin. He just wasn’t willing to admit that God would punish him without reason, or keep from him the knowledge of how to live a life pleasing to God.
This is why Job holds on to his integrity and doesn’t follow his wife’s advice to curse God and die. He is confident that God is absolutely righteous. He knows that God makes Himself known to His children. He trusts that if he had displeased God to the point that all this suffering had been heaped upon him as a punishment for sin, that he would at least know what the sin was, and that God would love him enough to show him his fault.
So even though he sounds like he is full of himself in verse 6, what he is actually full of is confidence that man can know what it takes to please God. And that brings him more solace than these “miserable comforters” (Job 16:2) ever could.
And one more thing: followers of Jesus have even more reason to hold fast to their righteousness. Why? Because it’s not our righteousness! Look what Paul says about righteousness in Philippians 3:
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—”
Philippians 3:8-9 ESV
Our righteousness is imputed to us. That means it is conferred or imparted to us by Jesus. We are declared righteous because of His righteousness. So in one sense, a believer who says he will hold on to his righteousness and not let go is saying that he will hold on to Jesus and not let go. Because the Lord will never let go of us.
The painting of Job’s friends at the top of this post is by the artist/poet/mystic William Blake (1757-1827) . A year before his death, he published a series of 22 watercolors of the entire book of Job. For a deeper dive into the symbolism and analysis of these stunning images, click here