Dealing With Contention
April 9, 2019
The Bible explains that there is a big gap in understanding between the way things actually are, and the way we as people perceive things. Our knowledge is limited. The things we see are often examined with distorted perspective. Most importantly, we don’t have great insight into the things of the spiritual plane of reality, which is the place from which all of God’s work stems. This means that there are often going to be disagreements about situations. People will often view things differently. People will often form opinions based on a variety of factors, many of which are subjective. When these things happen, people often times get hurt. Opposing views about things can cause people to get offended. People can be so sure about their position that disagreements can get heated and people get torn down as a result. Thankfully, there is hope in the Lord to bring resolution to these sorts of things.
In the testimony of Job 23:1-7 the Bible shows that Job strongly desired to be judged by the Lord. This might seem like an odd sort of thing to desire, but Job was right in his reasons. Since Job’s friends were relentless in their accusations against him, Job wanted fair treatment. The testimony of Job 23:1-7 begins by Job stating that “even today” his complaint was bitter. In other words, many days had gone by and his complaints were still bitter. Many days had gone by, and Job’s friends were still making false accusations of Job being a hypocrite. Many days had gone by and Job’s friends were still considering Job’s attitude to be rebellious against God. Many days had gone by and Job’s friends were just as useless to provide comfort as the day they first arrived. In other words, for all the things that Job’s friends had said and done, their “comfort” provided no value. Job was still bitter about his circumstances, but mainly because his friends festered his pain and suffering.
Job expressed that, while his complaint was bitter, it was not in excess of the amount of suffering he had to endure. Job explained that his groanings did not exceed the weight of the burden he had to carry. Often times as people, our complaints are exaggerated. Our complaints are often well in excess of the true difficulty of our circumstances. For example, the children of Israel complained throughout the wilderness journey, but God had met all of their needs. The children of Israel were well fed, well led, and protected. The glory of God dwelt among the people in the tabernacle, and God revealed His righteousness in ways that were unique to all generations of all people in the history of the world! Yet, the people grumbled because they were dissatisfied with God’s protection, provision, and providence. They figured to be entitled to more and so grumbled against God about difficulties that were hardly true to the extent that they complained about. As a result, God judged those people. Job on the other hand did not gripe in such a manner. His suffering was legitimate. He not only suffered the loss of his family and his wealth, but also suffered daily from his health, which kept him from having rest. Then, Job had to deal with his friends who also kept him from physical, emotional, and spiritual relief.
This is why Job sought relief from the Lord. Job’s friends couldn’t see the truth of Job’s circumstances. Job’s friends couldn’t understand his innocence. Job’s friends couldn’t fathom how God could do something good with the suffering that Job experienced, and so wrote him off as an enemy of God. Job knew what was true of himself. Job’s friends figured they knew better than Job. Thus, there was this contention that produced bitterness and difficulty for both Job and his friends. Job knew that if he were able to face God Himself, who judges rightly according to truth, he could have vindication. While many people fear the judgment of God, those who trust in Him and value His righteousness more than anything else, look forward to the justification that only God can provide. Hence, Job longed to face the judgment seat of God. Job knew that if he could state his case to God Himself in the manner he did to his friends, God would understand. God would know the truth. God would be able to recognize the true intents of Job’s heart. God would know that Job was not a hypocrite, and only longed for the fulfillment of God’s eternally unconditional promises.
Job was confident in the way that God would answer him. Job knew that God’s answer to Job’s complaints would be a far cry from the answers he got from his friends. Job knew that, although God is almighty, He would not exercise His power to bury Job in guilt. Job trusted in the mercy and grace of God, figuring God would exercise His power to build Job up, not tear him down. Job’s friends on the other hand, used all their strength and might to tear Job down. They came up with argument after argument against Job, trying to convince him of things that weren’t true. Their words were harmful and hurtful. Their perspective was skewed. Their self-righteousness was poisonous. Job knew that God was totally contrary to that. Job desired the righteous justice of God to address his suffering. Job desired the perfect wisdom of God to address his suffering. Job desired the kindness, mercy, compassion, and grace of God to deliver him from his suffering. Job knew that if he was going to receive true compassion and comfort, only God who alone is wise and righteous, would be able to do so.
Job understood that, while the judgment seat of God is terrifying to the wicked, it is a place of relief and comfort to those who trust in the righteousness of God. God allows the upright to boldly approach the throne of grace in order to find mercy in our time of need. Though those words weren’t penned by the Apostle Paul until much later, Job knew this to be true of God during his lifetime. Job knew that he could express his pain and it not be considered foolish and vain speaking. Job knew that God would hear his cries in a way that the Judge of all people would rightly discern his true intents and address them fairly. Job knew that the righteousness and justice of God transcended any sort of treatment he would ever receive in this life, no matter who those people were.
Here, the scriptures show that when contention arises between people because of disagreements, it is best to rely on God for comfort. Though we may be right in our perspective, it is not always possible for others to see or understand our point of view. It may not be anything personal, just a manifestation of human weakness. God on the other hand is not weak in this way. God is able to know all and understand our intents. When people come against us unjustly, it is seldom of any use to argue with them to prove our point. Instead, Job shows that it is better to plea for the righteous comfort of God. It is best to remember that God alone sits on the throne and His judgment is the one that counts. People might exhaust great effort to tear God’s people down, but God is the One True Living God who judges rightly and does so through the conduit of mercy and grace to those who love Him and seek Him by humble faith. As Job longed for the righteousness of God to be justified in his cause, so too should all of God’s people – trusting God to make everything right and good in the end according to His supreme righteousness.