Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I have been trying to finish my study on the book of Job for quite a while. A lot of life issues have prevented me from keeping up with my friends. They are finished and I am still struggling.

Job is a very complex book. Since I know the story, I am trying to look at the study with "fresh" eyes. My study is from the Joy of Living series, and it is a very good study.

I have been pondering Job's friends and with the recent suicide of a friend, I am looking closer at what type of friend I am.

Job's friends take a different approach to the same topic. In their eyes, Job must have done something to deserve all his tribulations. How often do we think this very thing about our own friends, family,or coworkers? We often jump to conclusions without knowing anything but what we perceive and hear from others. Most people don't air their "dirty laundry" for all to speculate on.

If you read Job, starting in chapter 3 and continuing in chapter 4, the first friend starts to speak. His name is Eliphaz, and it is presumed that he is the eldest of the 4 that speak. He is "elegant" at first in his speech and manner. He has learned to say unpleasant thing in gracious ways. How many of us do this? We start with a compliment and end with a criticism. He reminds me of southern women. We are taught almost from birth how to do this. Say unpleasant things to and about another with that southern "charm". It can be very deceiving to those that don't recognize it.

Then we move to Bilbad. He is "brutal" and to the point. He asks questions to bring the focus onto the logic of what is being talked about. He is an intellectual with a cold and harsh way of tackling the problem at hand. Bildad does not feel the agony of Job. He has no compassion for the pain and anguish of his friend. He makes no attempt to understand or to see what is behind Job's words. How many of us have talked about our partners this way? If we cannot see beyond the words, how can we begin to understand the pain?

Next we have Zophar. He is "zealous" in his attack on Job. He delivers a scorching rebuke to Job. He is very indignant and self-righteous in his tirade on Job. He is visibly angry at Job and I think he feels Job has been a hypocrite all these years and deserves what he is getting. He spouts off all these insults at Job and once again fails to empathize with the anguish of Job.

The biggest problem with these "friends" is that they are looking at Job with only theology. They are not looking at Job with the compassion of the Holy Spirit. We have all run into these type of people. They say all the right things, have all the right verses, but lack the compassion of a Christ like spirit. They cannot feel your pain and offer true words of wisdom because their religion gets in the way.

So what type of friend are you? Are you Eliphaz the "elegant",Bildad the "brutal" or Zophar the "zealous"? I think I have been all 3 at one time or another. My goal is to be like the youngest of the 4, Elihu. You can find him in in chapter 32. He is young but speaks with the wisdom of someone who has walked closely with God. He never forgets who Job is and is always courteous and respectful of him. He is honest but compassionate. Forthright but gentle. Rebuking but not harsh. He is a true friend.


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