(This 4-part study is Study #5 from the series, Studies From the Book of Job. You can access the other studies by clicking here.)
“With friends like that, who needs enemies!”
I have heard this expression all of my life, but I can’t think of any more appropriate application than to Job’s friends. They are there to “comfort” Job, but comfort is the last thing they bring him! Let’s take a look, first, at the second speech by Eliphaz the Temanite:
“Are the consolations of God too small for you,
And the word spoken gently with you?
Why does your heart carry you away,
And what do your eyes wink at,
That you turn your spirit against God,
And let such words go out of your mouth?” (Job 15:11-13 NKJV)
Is it just me, or does it seem like Eliphaz is setting himself up as the lawyer, the jury, and even the judge? Like he is being more than just a little judgemental? And when you are already miserable, someone’s verdict against you is the last thing you want to hear!
Job’s other friends aren’t any better. Take, for example, Bildad:
“When will you end these speeches? Be sensible, and then we can talk!” (Job 18:2)
“How long will you torment me and crush me with words?” (Job 19:2)
It sounds to me that rather than “consoling” Job, his friends are escalating things into a full-blown argument! And the next one to speak, Zophar, only makes things even worse: “I hear a rebuke that dishonors me . . .” (Job 20:3a) Since when was this about Zophar! Zophar isn’t the one who lost everything! Zophar isn’t suffering! Yet the constant accusations back and forth have led Zophar to worry about his honor, rather than Job’s!
But it gets worse. As the barbs continue to be hurled, judgementalism quickly slips into presumptuousness: “If you were pure and upright, Surely now He would awake for you, And prosper your rightful dwelling place.” (Job 8:6 NKJV) Basically, Bildad is saying that if Job were pure and innocent, God would respond to his plight! He is pretending to know what pushes God’s buttons!
The thing is, when we judge others, we are presuming to know God’s mind! Besides the fact that on one can know the mind of the Lord (See Rom 11:34-36 NKJV), King David warns us that presumptuous sins lead us into greater transgression: “Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression.” (Ps 19:13 NKJV)
The Bible has some pretty strong things to say against judgementalism. Here are just a few examples:
“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24 NKJV)
“Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things…And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?” (Rom 2:1-4 NKJV)
And God’s judgement did come to Job’s friends: “And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has'” (Job 42:7-8 NKJV).
But wait. We aren’t really here to point the finger at Job’s friends. We are here to learn some lessons about correcting our erring brothers and sisters, for we are told to do just that: “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke…” (2 Tim 4:2a NKJV); “And you, fathers…bring them up in the training and admonition…” (Eph 6:4 NKJV)
So how can we convince, rebuke, train and admonish without being judgemental?
The secret lies in how we administer the correction! 2 Tim 4:2 goes on to say: “…Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” and “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (NKJV)
It puts a different spin on things, doesn’t it? And it’s a far cry from the correction administered by Job’s friends!
The lesson we can learn is this: Sometimes correction needs to happen, but if done in the wrong way, argument and strife will result and our purpose will not be accomplished. We must do what Job’s friends did not do:
1. Ensure that our accusations are indeed, correct;
2. Pray to God and ask Him to give us the words to say and the right time to say them.
If we follow God’s spirit, we will always speak with all longsuffering and teaching, so as not to provide the one we are correcting to anger.
Please join us next week for Other Lessons From Job, Part 4: Job’s Discourse.
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access the rest of this mini-series, please click here.)