Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 24 March 2023:
Job 13:3 – But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God.
Job was not trying, nor did he intend to defend himself before men; Job only wanted to speak to God.
Job 13:4 – As for you, you whitewash with lies; worthless physicians are you all.
Job’s judgmental friends were completely unhelpful. Our words should bring healing, not that they will always be pleasant. The physician handles the scalpel delicately, does not cut carelessly, and always cuts to heal, leaving as little scarring as possible. Proverbs 12:18 says, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4) The fruit of the spirit include gentleness, and the Bible tells us that “if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1) We must remember that all of our words must be grounded in love and that we have been given “the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:8). We are called to “Aim for restoration.” (2 Corinthians 13:11) Christians are in the people business, and the Bible is particularly interested in how we treat one another.
What sort of physician are you? Do your words bring healing or only make things worse? Job’s friends, were terrible physicians, though they didn’t intend to be. In fact, they exemplified proper basic first aid in their initial actions – “Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place…. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him….. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.” (Job 2:11-13) These friends dropped everything and came together to support Job, traveled great distances to care for him, had great compassion for him, prayed earnestly for him, and silently comforted him for a long time. They were doing great until they attempted to diagnose Job’s problem and give Job the ‘medicine’ he needed, until they opened their mouths and said hurtful, judgmental things.
Yes, sometimes the truth hurts, much like the taste of medicine can be unpleasant and surgeries are usually painful, but no one needs a careless doctor who applies the wrong treatment or who performs his or her procedures in a reckless way – malpractice is a very serious and deadly thing. Likewise, we must be careful about how we use God’s word to address issues of concern in the lives of others.
- Psalm 147:3 — He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Our words should bring healing, not that they will always be pleasant. As Proverbs teaches, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend,” and “Better is open rebuke than hidden love…. Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue…. It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools. (Proverbs 27:5,6; Proverbs 30:6; Ecclesiastes 7:5) Sometimes, love demands that we address difficult issues with others. However, the physician handles the scalpel very delicately, not carelessly, and always cuts to heal, leaving as little scarring as possible.
Consider Job’s friends as physicians thus far in our readings:
Eliphaz Speaks: “Behold, you have instructed many…. But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed. Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope? As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. By the breath of God they perish…. As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause…. Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves…. Behold, this we have searched out; it is true. Hear, and know it for your good.”
Bildad Speaks: “How long will you say these things, and the words of your mouth be a great wind? Such are the paths of all who forget God; the hope of the godless shall perish…. If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy, if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore your rightful habitation. Behold, God will not reject a blameless man, nor take the hand of evildoers.”
Zophar Speaks: “Should your babble silence men…? Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves. If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your tents. But the eyes of the wicked will fail; all way of escape will be lost to them, and their hope is to breathe their last.”
So at Job’s darkest moment of pain and misery, his closest friends accused him of being a hypocritical sinner who was being punished by God for failing to repent of some hidden iniquity. Their diagnosis was that Job deserved worse and should put away his iniquity (which they have not identified) and plead to God for mercy. Helpful? Loving? Even if Job were a hypocritical sinner suffering in denial, these ‘friends’ lacked compassion and empathy, and they spoke to their suffering friend in a very condescending and judgmental way – ‘Stop babbling on, and listen to me for your own good…. If I were you, I’d….”
“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4) The fruit of the spirit include gentleness, and the Bible tells us that “if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1) We must remember that all our words must be grounded in love and applied carefully and gently with the “aim for restoration.” (2 Corinthians 13:11)
While Job’s friends were shockingly insensitive, their biggest mistake was presuming to know what was going on in Job’s life and subsequently judging Job and his behavior from their false perceptions. In fact, Job’s friends had no idea what God was doing in Job’s life or why God was allowing these circumstances to occur in Job’s life; but pridefully, they assumed they did. Don’t we do this all the time? With very shallow perceptions of situations, issues, and people, we form opinions steeped in implicit bias and then judge others. We misinterpret other people’s behavior and assume to know their motives, and too often we assume the worst in them. We then insensitively armchair quarterback – “If it were me, I would….” We never know the whole story or the whole person, and we don’t know exactly what God is doing in the lives of others. We do know we are called to love others, display God’s grace, and bring healing into the lives of others.
- Psalm 147:3 — He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
- Isaiah 58:9, 10 — If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
Job 13:5 – Oh that you would keep silent, and it would be your wisdom!
Silence is often our wisest option. If you are not speaking as an Ambassador for Christ with a definite word from God, remain silent.
Job 13:7 – Will you speak falsely for God and speak deceitfully for him?
Job’s friends used their ‘biblical’ knowledge inappropriately to speak falsely for God and to wrongly judge Job and his situation. You must be very careful not speak beyond your actual wisdom.
Job13:15, 16 – Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face. This will be my salvation, that the godless shall not come before him.
Job did not understand his situation but trusted in God and in his relationship with God. Job saw salvation in His special relationship with God. To know God is to love God. To love God is to trust God, no matter what.
Job 13:16 – This will be my salvation, that the godless shall not come before him.
Job understood that God will reveal the truth of every matter and judge the hearts of all people.
Job 13:24 – Why do you hide your face and count me as your enemy?
It is hard for us to understand what appears to be God’s silence or even absence. Even righteous Job, the one hand-picked by God, struggled with this — the Bible reveals Job’s struggle with us intentionally to give us strength in our trials. What we cannot see requires faith.
There are times in life when human advice is no longer helpful, only the Holy Spirit can be your Counsellor.
Mark 4: 10 — And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables.
Get alone with Jesus so He can teach you.
Mark 4:11, 12 — And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that ‘they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.’”
Only through the Holy Spirit can you truly understand the word of God. Humans cannot naturally understand the Kingdom. They need God’s revelation.
Mark 4:18-21 — “And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand?”
I pray that the worries of the world won’t keep us from keeping “the main thing the main thing,” won’t cause us to neglect the Great Commission, won’t cause us to get distracted and miss our life’s purpose. I pray that we won’t put our lamp under a basket for sake of career or sociability. I pray that every one of us will bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold. If the world around us is very dark, it might be that our light is not very bright.
Mark 4:41 — And they were filled with great fear.
Nothing was more fearful to the disciples than the power of Jesus. If you don’t have a healthy fear (respect and awe) of the Lord, it is because you haven’t experienced Him as you ought. Walk with Jesus by abiding in His word, and watch Him work in a way that overwhelms you.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 24 March 2023: Today, ensure all your words our healing rather than hurting, encouraging rather than discouraging, and ensure your motive is always to draw people closer to Jesus.