That's the big question, isn't it? What did he do, what do any of us do, to offend God and court disaster in our lives? The harsh edge of this debate between Job and his friends is the shuddering and alarming knowledge that we share with God and with Job that he is blameless. Well, he is as blameless as any one human being can be. There are burrs and knicks on the edge of the blade of his reasoning that catch at us. Today's reading could easily cause us to draw a conclusion that Job's sin is a heady mix of pride and certainty that masquerade as faith and fidelity to God. His success means he praises God...and why shouldn't he? He has the privilege of place, being a man of THE faith in a primary (and beneficial relationship) with THE God. When it all goes away, then someone (read: JOB) has to be to blame.
Job's current reflection ponders the place human being have in the world. You see, while the rest of creation just sort of "lives," we as humans have this habit of working, developing, using creation in a technical way to the end of our comfort and of our well-being. We mine the earth, till the land, dam the waterways, build our homes, domesticate our herd animals....all that so that we can enjoy "civilization." All well and good, but the trap is when we assume that success in building up these complicated, resource-dependent lives means that we are worth something...that dominance means being better than anything-or anyone-else.
God doesn't ever ask us to be dominant, at least not in that way. What does God ask of us? God seeks from us our fidelity to God's will. God desires that we love mercy, seek justice and walk humbly before the throne of grace. God is, apparently, pleased when remember the poor and the oppressed; and when we do something about poverty and the oppression of minority populations. To put it plainly, God seems to be pleased when we use our resources rightly and to the benefit of creation...when we learn, do and act mindfully.
I see in today's readings the pitfalls that come from being a bit too confident in anything other than a humble stance before God. Job dances on the edge of sinful pride. David's psalm reminds us that interpersonal conflict is in so many ways the ultimate distraction from God. Paul is beginning his letter to the Galatians with an over subscription to the fact that though he is prominent in the Gospel-proclaiming business, he makes no assumption about his own preeminence.
It's all about the work, the technique, of living life...living life well....and living a life of faith vested in developing those technical skills with the intent that they benefit the world and praise the Creator in the process.