God asked Satan if he had observed righteous Job. Satan had, which first of all, lets you know that true righteousness is always visible, as John said, “Be not deceived, he who does righteousness is righteous.” We like to prove righteousness by numbers of followers, bank balances, or some other external measuring line. God measures righteousness by whether you do righteous stuff.
Secondly, although Satan is aware of Job’s righteousness, Satan is highly cynical. Satan believes Job is only obedient to God because life is going well. Take away Job’s good stuff and his faith will disappear too. This leads me to several points about Satan and cynicism
- Cynicism is often an admission of guilt. Perhaps Satan is so cynical because Satan fell himself. Seeing someone actually listen to God, even a lowly human, perhaps makes Satan feel guilty. Our own guilt often makes us question the sincerity and spirituality of others. It says less about them and plenty about us.
- Cynicism is Satan’s territory. I am a very cynical guy. I like to think my cynicism is pure wisdom in action. I know things about people. But I have often wondered if my cynicism is more flesh than Spirit. We are to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. We are to test the spirits. But cynicism is a destroyer and knows no limits. It takes down the pure and the dirty.
- Cynicism is often right. Satan assumes that faith will fall when life goes bad. Clearly this has happened many times. Satan would be right in general on this charge, just horribly wrong in Job’s case, just as Job’s friends were generally right, but not with Job. The Health and Wealth Gospel is Satan’s point here. Take away the Health and Wealth and the Gospel, for many, disappears too. Often this is true, but not always.
- Cynicism should be viewed cynically. I recently read the autobiography of George Muller, who supported hundreds of orphans, yet never asked for money, he only prayed. There were several things in the book that made me question Mr. Muller. So, my cynicism of Mr. Muller, does it reveal a problem with Mr. Muller, or is Jeff just feeling guilty he doesn’t trust God and pray enough? I know enough about cynicism to make me cynical of it. I doubt my own doubting of others. However, being cynical of cynicism is a Catch-22.
- Cynicism can be good. For my proof text, I point you to Proverbs 14:15, “The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.” Wise people don’t believe everything they hear. They doubt some stuff. Part of being wise is learning who to trust and who to doubt. Doubting the right people is important for remaining wise!
We need to be careful with cynicism. It has its place, but out of place, it ruins ourselves and others. It’s nigh on impossible to be cynical and loving at the same time. Love believes all things, remember. Perhaps it is possible to not believe someone and yet not be cynical of them.
I confess to you that this is a tough issue for me. Just writing down some thoughts to help me sort through it. Or am I?