February 18, 2019
When people don’t rely on the counsel of the Lord to speak their minds concerning the circumstances of other people, bad things can happen. The scriptures show that, even though we might have good intentions to speak good things to those around us to help them, our words can come out all wrong so that we do more damage than good. Our intentions to help can quickly become the tools of the devil to break people down. Words we think are encouraging and wise can be words that cause deeper pain. The reason for this is that, we as people can’t see into the hearts of others. We as people can’t understand the mind of God. We as people don’t understand all of the purposes of God. We are severely crippled when it comes to knowledge. We simply don’t have access to all of the details to make true assessments and judgments. Therefore, when we desire to offer the words of healing, we often provide words that frustrate the infection because we can’t properly diagnose the symptoms to know the cause.
This truth is made powerfully evident through the testimony of Job. Job was a man that God declared as blameless and upright. He was a man of faith and beloved of God. The Lord used Job as a powerful instrument of righteousness to teach about the magnitude of His glory, faithfulness, mercy, grace, and redemption. Though God offered Job up to the devil to suffer great torment, God exercised His sovereign control to ensure that the devil’s torment was no threat to Job’s spiritual integrity. God did this to show that, no matter how bad things seem to be in this life, He is faithful to protect the essence that matters most concerning eternal life. Though the package may appear damaged, the product inside remains intact because of God’s power and supreme control to restrain the forces that threaten His people. It is true that Job suffered greatly, but only to prove that God’s greatness transcends the matters of this life; and when God desires to change the circumstances of this life, He can do so at any time, to any degree, even when things seem most dire.
The problem is that no one on earth knew what God was doing. Job and his friends were completely clueless about God’s true purposes. Job figured he was being tormented by God directly because of some issue couldn’t understand. Job didn’t know that the pain he felt was from the devil. Job didn’t know God was doing a good work with Job. Job certainly didn’t know that he would soon be restored far beyond what he could imagine. Likewise, Job’s friends didn’t know what was going on either. Job’s friends saw Job’s condition and they also figured that he was being punished for some extreme sin. The severity of Job’s suffering caused Job’s friends to think that his sin was of the worse kind, and that all of the good things Job appeared to be at first were all a front. Job’s friend Eliphaz spoke first to communicate this idea, accusing Job to be a hypocrite. Eliphaz meant well, hoping that Job would repent of hypocrisy, but Job wasn’t a hypocrite. Eliphaz’s accusation was false. For this reason, the words that Eliphaz thought would be helpful, were actually hurtful.
In the testimony of Job 8:1-7 the Bible documents the remarks of Job’s other friend Bildad. Job expressed his desire to die, figuring that to be the only way of escape because of the magnitude of his suffering. Job might have been overly dramatic to describe his pain, but his pain was clearly the worse he had ever experienced, and so figured it was too much to bear. Job was willing to admit any fault, understanding that God is just to judge the wicked, but he couldn’t identify his guilt. He knew he wasn’t a hypocrite, and so he tried to plead for compassion from his friends by explaining the severity of pain that he was enduring. Bildad didn’t offer the compassion that Job sought. Bildad responded to Job with insults and accusations. He asked Job, “How long will you speak these things and the words of your mouth be like a strong wind?” Bildad’s remark shows that he felt Job’s expressions of pain were like hot air. To Bildad, Job’s perspective was without substance like wind. To Bildad, Job’s emotional response to the work of God was like word vomit that was valueless and gross. This is because Bildad, like Eliphaz, figured Job to be guilty of hypocrisy and was not satisfied to hear that Job didn’t repent of hypocrisy.
Bildad reminded Job of God’s judgment. He stated that God doesn’t subvert or pervert judgment. That God as Almighty, as El Shaddai, is powerful to judge properly and rightly at all times. Bildad truthful confessed that God knows all, sees all, and is responsive to all that He knows, being able to deal with all things according to perfect righteousness and justice. All of these things are true of God, but Bildad’s statements were misapplied. Bildad said these things of God, not to exalt the name of God, but to further accuse Job and scare him. Bildad hoped that Job would remember God’s power to judge and be frightened and humbled to confess guilt and sin. Bildad was trying to cause Job to admit to sin that he hadn’t committed. In this way, Bildad was trying to use strong words to be the hero that caused Job to see the error of his ways. Bildad expected Job to fess up. Yet, there was nothing to fess up to. While Job’s friends expected Job to admit to their accusations, their accusations were not true. Since Job’s confession didn’t come, the accusations against Job got more intense because men with flawed perspective swore they were right. They weren’t.
Bildad’s words became more hurtful as he continued. His words were words that provoked Job into more pain, frustration, and anxiety. This is what the devil wanted, hoping that his provocation would cause Job to give up and curse God. While Bildad didn’t feel like he was being a tool of the devil, the poison of his words resulted that way nonetheless. Bildad used the recent deaths of Job’s sons to validate his point about God’s judgment. Bildad claimed that Job’s sons all died in the manner that they did because God was judging them for some sin that was the worse of its kind. In other words, Bildad was stating that Job’s sons got what they deserved, and if Job didn’t hurry to confess his sin, he was next! Though Job knew that his sons weren’t perfect, and went so far as to offer sin offerings on their behalf, the Bible does not say that God killed them in judgment. Again, the scriptures state that Satan provoked certain things to happen that caused the deaths of his sons. This shows that the manner in which things take place in this life, doesn’t always indicate the reason. It is true that Job and his sons were sinners like all other people, but the difficulties of their circumstances were not evidence of God’s punishment for massive sins. Understanding this, we would be wise to avoid the foolishness of Bildad, who wrongly assumed he knew what was going on, making Job’s suffering far worse while figuring to be of help. Instead, we would be wise to approach these situations humbly, recognizing we don’t know what’s really happening, and don’t fully understand God’s purposes, seeking to use words on the basis of mercy and grace like Jesus. Let the devil play the role of accuser. Let the Holy Spirit speak the words of conviction. Let the Christian play the role of servant.
Bildad then went on to offer words of encouragement to Job, but under the context of further accusation. He assured Job that if he were to earnestly seek God, he would be restored. Bildad stated that, if Job were truly blameless and upright, God would restore him. Here, the tone of Bildad is still accusatory, showing that Bildad did not expect Job to seek the Lord, and Job’s continued suffering would be proof that he and Eliphaz were right – Job was a hypocrite. Bildad was not seeking to help Job seek the Lord, but instead used the truth of God’s character as a slight against Job. It is true that God upholds those He considers blameless and upright. It is true that God restores those who are His and humbly seek Him. Bildad figured Job to be a hypocrite, hiding evil from the world that God was exposing. He didn’t expect Job to seek God. He didn’t expect God to restore Job. He expected Job to remain suffering, confirming his false accusations. Thankfully, God eventually proved Bildad right and wrong. God proved Bildad right in the sense that He did restore Job to confirm his blamelessness and uprightness. God proved Bildad wrong in the sense that He did not let Job remain in his suffering, showing that Job was not guilty of hypocrisy like his friends thought.
The scriptures show that God is going to do what He is going to do. His ways are truly different than ours. His purposes are truly foreign to our understanding. Even when we learn about who God is in the Bible, we aren’t properly equipped to determine the meaning, purpose, and outcome for all of the things God does. This is why we should refrain from rendering verdicts about the character of people, remaining stern on the things we think we know. The testimony of Job is clear to show that, as people, we don’t know much of anything. Knowing things about God doesn’t mean that we know God and can call His shots. We are not God’s spokespeople in that regard. We have not been sent by God to diagnose other people’s issues to tell them what’s wrong and how they should live. Even when we think we’re doing someone a service in that regard, the Bible shows that we are wrong more than we are right. Unless God is the motivator and manufacturer of the words that we speak, we are more likely to cause greater distress as a tool of the devil. Hence, it is good to be slow to speak, and wise to hear what the Spirit of God might say concerning ourselves as a priority.