May 9, 2019
Often times, good counsel and wisdom is not received just because of the way it is communicated. Sometimes people can say helpful words, but with a harsh tone, and those helpful words become fruitless. Sometimes people can share helpful truths, but have impure motives that others can discern. In these cases, helpful truths are often rejected just because of the attitude of the one giving the information. Knowing this, it is important to be mindful about the ways we communicate to one another – especially when seeking to share critical information that is truly helpful to others. The information is only helpful to someone else if they receive the information. As communicators of the Gospel, it is important to understand that the Gospel is already offensive to human nature. If we’re trying to share the truth of the Gospel, we don’t need to complicate the matter by speaking helpful words in a harsh tone, or powerful truths with bad attitudes so that our message is rejected. Often times the truth is rejected, not because of the truth communicated, but because of the one communicating it.
This is why the Bible demands humility from the people of God. Those who seek to serve the Lord by communicating the Gospel according to the Great Commission Jesus commanded, must remember to speak with humility, meekness, and mercy. It is important to remember the basis of salvation when preaching the Gospel or talking about the Bible. The scriptures teach that our salvation is based on the principle of “justification.” The Bible explains that “the just shall live by faith.” This means that our ability to escape the wrath of God and receive His approval, is based on faith that God provides, not our works, abilities, discipline, or resolve. The scriptures teach that all people sin and fall short of the glory of God. However, the important part about justification is that the Bible teaches we are saved according to God’s declaration and promise of future transformation. This means that, while faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is sufficient to save us from condemnation, we are not made righteous in this life. We are declared righteous though we continue to live in the flesh and make mistakes.
Every Christian knows that even though we have faith, we have lapses. We continue to sin even though we have been justified and sanctified unto God’s purposes. This is important to remember when sharing the truth of scripture. This is important to remember when speaking helpful words of Biblical importance to others. If we have not been made righteous yet, then we are always disqualified from talking down to people as if we are better. No one’s circumstances puts them in a worse position than anyone else. Our ability to possess truth and speak it does not speak well of us; it speaks to the magnitude of God’s grace in spite of us. Since we remain carnal, mistake-prone, and corrupt, how can we then speak the Word of God with a poor attitude or harsh tone? Who are we to speak truth with a self-righteous demeanor? It is our remembrance of the basis of our own salvation that should provoke us to speak the truth of God with the right humility and meekness.
The testimony of Job provides a good example of this mindset and attitude. In Job 33:1-7 the Bible documents the first words that Elihu spoke to Job. Recall that Elihu was a young guy – much younger than Job and his friends. At first, Elihu was discouraged and intimidated to speak and address the issues he heard from Job and his friends because they were much older. Elihu wanted to respect their age. He wanted to assume the old adage, that old people are wise people, was true. However, as Elihu patiently sat and listened to the arguments between Job and his friends, he realized that something needed to be said. These men were misspeaking about God and he felt compelled to correct them. Elihu confessed that he was offended by the way they spoke of God and also the ways that they spoke to one another as believers. However, in Job 33:1-7 the Bible shows that Elihu took great care to ensure that his words were not sharp. Elihu wanted to correct the people with good counsel that he trusted God was providing. He didn’t want to pervert that counsel by speaking pridefully, self-righteously, or with the same condemning tone that he was correcting. Therefore, Elihu explained his intents.
Elihu addressed Job first. He addressed Job by simply asking him to hear his words. Elihu wanted Job to consider his speech. Often times, the words of young people are dismissed simply because they are coming out of the mouths of youth. Often times, older people will immediately reject or ignore the words of those who are younger. Elihu didn’t want to be shunned simply because of his age. He didn’t want to be excused just because he was merely an observer to the conversation. Elihu pleaded with Job to listen with intent and focus. Elihu asked Job to seriously consider the words that he spoke. Trusting that God is able to produce wisdom in any person, regardless of age. Elihu explained that he tried to be respectful to his elders, and then asked Job to respect his words as a human being that also was zealous for God.
Elihu explained to Job that his words were coming from an “upright heart.” Recall that Job was described as an “upright man.” Elihu used the same word to describe his heart as was used to describe the character of Job. As Job was a man of integrity, Elihu spoke with a heart of integrity. As Job was a man of faith in the revelation of God’s righteousness, Elihu spoke with a heart that was centered on the distribution of that revelation. Elihu had good intentions. He wasn’t trying to make a name for himself as a young ambitious man. Elihu wasn’t trying to insert himself into an argument to prove himself right. Elihu wasn’t trying to prove himself superior in wisdom or knowledge. Elihu wasn’t trying to provoke further argument. In the same manner that Job humbled himself before God with a faithful heart to serve the Lord’s purposes, Elihu humbled himself before Job with a faithful heart to God to serve the Lord’s purposes too.
Elihu confessed that his lips were set to speak “pure knowledge.” Here, Elihu wasn’t boasting or suggesting that he was speaking perfect knowledge. Perfect knowledge and pure knowledge are two different things. Elihu wasn’t trying to say that he knew and understood all things. Instead, Elihu was explaining the intents behind his words. He was speaking with a pure heart. The knowledge of God he was going to speak about was being communicated from a position of humility. The wisdom that God provided was pure because wisdom from above is always, first pure. Thus, Elihu was humbling himself so that the integrity of God’s wisdom would remain pure. He was stating that he would not allow selfish ambitions or fleshly motives to corrupt the things he was about to speak; which God had previously revealed by His grace.
The scriptures show that Elihu understood the means by which he was able to speak “pure knowledge.” He confessed that he was made by the Spirit of God. Elihu plainly stated, “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Elihu was confessing that he was nothing of himself. He was not able to live by his own means, let alone speak by his own wisdom. While he could have easily misspoken like Job’s friends according to his own wisdom, Elihu’s confession of the truth about his nature shows that he was trying to humble himself. Remembering that he was just dust from the earth was humbling. Remembering that the breath of God was the means by which he lived was humbling. Remembering that the Spirit of God was the means by which he could have wisdom was humbling. If God was the author of his life, the administrator, the enabler, and the encourager of his life, then what did Elihu have to show for of himself? How could Elihu speak from a position of superiority compared to Job? This is the mindset that caused Elihu to speak effectively.
Elihu encouraged Job to answer him back if he misspoke in any way. Though Elihu sought to speak with pure knowledge, he was open to the possibility that he might make a mistake. Elihu invited Job to speak up and defend himself if there was any error in his communication. Elihu wasn’t claiming to have the final say. Elihu wasn’t claiming to be the supreme authority, assuming that he would shut the mouth of Job forever. Though Job’s mouth was shut and he didn’t have a defense against the things Elihu stated, it is clear to see that Elihu’s intents were indeed pure. He wasn’t just trying to shut someone up to win an argument. He wanted to make sure that the truth of God reigned supreme, and was open to the idea that he might not know it all. In such a case, Elihu invited Job to clarify or correct any issue that was addressed improperly.
Lastly, Elihu reminded Job that he and Job were the same. Though Job’s physical, mental, and emotional condition were so pitiful in appearance, Elihu didn’t pretend that he was better off than Job. Elihu explained that he was hoping to be like Job’s spokesperson. He wanted to be Job’s advocate, not his accuser. He reminded Job that even though their circumstances might have seemed different, they were one and the same in the eyes of God. Job and Elihu were made from the dirt of the earth. Job and Elihu were made alive by the Spirit of God. Job and Elihu were both equipped in life by the breath of God. In other words, neither was greater than the other. Elihu was not better than Job because of his health. Job was not better than Elihu because of his age. They were formed from the same clay. Which clump of dirt is better than the other? It was for this reason that Elihu assured Job that he had nothing to worry about. Elihu was not speaking to utter words of contempt and condemnation. Elihu was not going to take the side of Job’s friends and continue to add burdens to Job for the sake of his own self-righteousness. Elihu wanted to help, and his manner of help would be by proclaiming the truth with a gentle tone, with a humble heart, and a spiritual purpose to exalt the holy name of the Lord God Almighty.