Presumptuousness is a terrible thing. The Bible commands against it and discourages God’s people from thinking this way and speaking this way. The scriptures repeatedly explain that, as people, we are severely limited in knowledge. Wisdom alone comes from God, and unless God is providing wisdom according to His purposes, we don’t have it. As human beings, we are carnal creatures, but all things are influenced from a spiritual plane of reality. Therefore, our perspective about the truth of things and the resolution of things is distorted by what we see. Knowing these things, we are not called to speak as if we have perfect and clear understanding. We are not to walk with confidence as if we know what is going on in our lives. We are not to parade around like we understand circumstances, present or future. The truth of the matter is, we don’t know, and so we shouldn’t boast in arrogance as if we do, especially concerning the circumstances of others.
The testimony of Job is a great illustration as to why we should refrain from being presumptuous. The testimony of Job documents the responses of several men that tried to identify what God was doing as if they knew God’s work and motives. They were terribly wrong, but went on speaking, sure and confident that their opinions were reflective of God’s own mind. At the end of Job’s testimony, God indeed humbles all of the presumptuous men by revealing the truth about Himself, His superior wisdom, sovereignty, and power. It was God’s revelation of Himself that shut the mouths of men who thought they knew better. Seeing that God will ultimately shut every mouth that thinks they know, it was good wisdom from Job when he advised his friends to keep quiet.
In Job 13:1-12 the Bible shows that Job addressed the arrogant remarks of his friends. They originally went to visit Job to offer comfort in his affliction, but when they spoke, they spoke false accusations and lies. They questioned Job’s personal integrity and motives. They accused him of being a hypocrite. They tried to prove to Job that the deaths of his children was just judgment from God. They tried to get Job to confess and repent of things that he didn’t do. All this to say, Job’s friends weren’t very comforting. They felt like they were being used as God’s chief instruments of righteousness, but their arrogance showed they were more effective tools of the devil as accusers of the brethren.
In Job 13:1-12, Job finally had enough of the “help” his friends offered. His friends spoke to Job true things of God, but in a condescending manner as if Job didn’t know who God was. In this way, they questioned Job’s relationship with the Lord as if they could examine his heart and know that his relationship with God was illegitimate. Therefore, Job explained that he knew God too. His relationship with God was genuine. He knew about the superior wisdom and strength of God. Job knew about the absolute sovereignty of God. Job articulated his knowledge and understanding of God’s supreme power, control, and understanding. His friends were superior to him in this way. Even though Job’s friends talked down to Job, he explained that their pride was unwarranted. Job explained that, even though his circumstances looked pitiful, those men were no better than him. Here, it is important to recognize a compelling Biblical truth. Just because one suffers and another doesn’t suffer, doesn’t mean the one not suffering is better than the other. The scriptures frequently express God’s perspective about this. His aim is to exalt the lowly, restore the poor, uplift the widows and the orphans; not the proud and self-righteous who measure their approval of God based on the outward appearance of their life.
It was for this reason that Job wished he could speak to God Himself. Though Job understood that God was ultimately responsible in some way for his suffering, he felt that God would be more merciful and understanding of his circumstances than his friend. Often times, it is the servant that is harsher than the king, even though it is the king that has the authority. The servant often responds with harsh authority pretending to be in charge to uplift their own egos at the expense of those around them. Job preferred to speak with God Himself, who has legitimate and pure understanding of our hearts. When we are in pain, He knows why, can properly diagnose the cause, and administrate the cure. When we are confused, God alone knows why, can identify and reveal the truth, and move us in the direction of His light. When we are without strength, God alone is able to provide according to the excess of His own power and might. God is everything we need Him to be when we desire to live according to His eternally-centered purposes. He is our sufficiency, and so it is always good practice to seek the Lord directly rather than the people around us. While God certainly uses the people around us to serve our needs from time to time, it is always best to consult the Lord directly first! Recall that the Book of Hebrews commands the people of God to boldly approach God’s throne of grace where we will find mercy and grace in our time of need.
Job then went on to explain why the counsel and service of his friends was so worthless. They were forgers of lies. They weren’t men that simply lied to defend themselves in fear. They weren’t men that lied by impulse. They were men that took time and effort to “forge” fabrications about who Job was. Their false accusations were more than mere misunderstandings. They were lies. God saw Job as a blameless and upright man. Job’s friends continually boasted in their confidence of Job’s hypocrisy. Their presumptuousness caused them to not only be proud men, but liars. For this reason, Job said that as “physicians” their service was worthless as well. They went to offer comfort to Job, but they worsened his condition. They added mental frustration and emotional anguish to the physical pain of Job’s boils. They didn’t make anything easier for him. The more they spoke, the worse Job felt. This is why Job told them to shut up. He plainly stated that, if they wanted to prove how wise they were, they would keep their mouths shut. Here, the Bible shows that people often speak well beyond their means, and far beyond what we know. Therefore, the wise person will keep quiet before exposing the true depth of our natural foolishness. As flawed creatures, the more we speak, the worse things get, especially when we speak according to our own opinions and influence.
Instead of just slamming his friends, Job offered counsel of his own. Job sought to warn his friends that their presumptuous attitudes were running them the risk of judgment they assumed Job was getting. While they counseled Job with arrogance, they were blinded to their own hypocrisy. Job asked his friends if they were so prideful that they felt they were God’s chief instruments of communication and justice. They spoke as if God’s word was falling to deaf ears on Job, so by the superior nature of their service, they could clear up that which God could not cause Job to hear. They felt as if their words were God’s own words according to His supreme appointment to come down on Job. The Bible teaches that God’s Word doesn’t need help. God alone is Judge and doesn’t need help administrating His justice and righteousness. Jesus, the Lord’s Messiah, is the One called, “The Lord Our Righteousness.” God did not say that His Messiah would be called “Bildad Our Righteousness,” or “Zophar Our Righteousness.” Yet these men spoke as if they felt God had called them to this degree of ministry; as if God’s Word and counsel needed help. The scriptures clearly teach that if no one understands and praises God, even the rocks and the heavens will do so. He doesn’t need us like many people think…
The scriptures show that Job’s friends were speaking lies about Job’s character, yet they felt that if they put God’s name and explained their head-knowledge about God, their lies would be justified. This is never true, and Job warned them of this mistake. If our motives are wrong, it does not become beneficial and good to say, “It’s for the Lord.” If our intentions are good but our words and attitudes are wrong, God does not accept our service just because we meant well. Good intentions are not sufficient to justify or sanctify God’s people through unrighteous speech, action, or attitudes. God’s Word is sufficiently true. He doesn’t need us to bend the truth to make His truth better. He doesn’t need us to exaggerate or lie about things concerning Him to make Him seem better to others – or more appropriately, make ourselves seem better to others. God is not pleased with this. He doesn’t excuse wrong when we do wrong, but do it passionately as if it was for the Lord. We are not called to do evil so that our perception of good can come out of it. This is what Job’s friends were guilty of, but couldn’t see it, having their vision distorted by their presumptuousness. Job tried to get them to see the truth.
Job’s friends had slanted their opinions as if they were God’s truths. They made flawed assessments with limited understanding, but spoke in such a way as if their opinions were the declarations of God Himself. Their confidence and outward piousness might have fooled some people, but it didn’t fool Job and he questioned his friends to see if they thought they could fool God. Just because we might be able to put on a show to make ourselves look good in front of others, doesn’t mean God is fooled. Just because we can get people to approve of us as good people or wise people, doesn’t mean we gain God’s approval. God does not show favoritism and doesn’t consider the responses of other towards us when He judges. Therefore, Job asked his friends if they were so confident in their accusations that they would feel comfortable with God examining their hearts. Were they so confident that they were right, that they could call on God to look at their hearts and agree? Were they so confident in their position with God that God would come down and agree with their claims concerning their wisdom and righteousness? Here, it is important to remember that, God will ultimately judge the hearts of all people. We should always be questioning whether God would be pleased with the contents of our hearts. If He were to reveal and make public the things that are in our hearts concerning the ways we serve Him, would He be pleased? Would He approve? Would it match the manner and temperament of His Son?
All people run the risk of error here. Job simply wanted to remind his friends that their presumptuousness was putting them at risk. They were men with flawed thoughts, that when they inevitably died, their opinions would soon be forgotten, not cherished and revered like they presumed. The only thoughts and opinions that are lasting are the ones that come from God in true wisdom, but it is only those who fear the Lord in humility that gain such wisdom – not the ones who think they already know it all.