Every year during my Bible reading when I work my way through the book of Job, I find myself saying, “There is much truth spoken by Job’s “friends” in this book, however, so much of it is misapplied to someone that God referred to as, “My servant Job…there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears [reverences] God and turns away from evil!” (And that was God’s assessment of Job on more than one occasion in the book!) His friends criticize him, accuse him, and give him all kinds of advice about the challenges he is facing, often using “truth” but cruelly misapplying it to a righteous man going through terrible trials.
Just let me say, that is not a problem unique to Job! It has happened to righteous, godly people down through the centuries and it happens today! Sometimes so called “friends” can inflict the worst pain with their advice to fellow Christians going through severe trials! Phrases like, “If only you would…” or “Perhaps if you were…” can lead into painful, unjust, accusations from those who are living in relative comfort while their friends are going to difficult trials.
So today, as I was reading Job again, I found myself praying, “Oh Lord, I never want to be guilty of that! I don’t want the phrase “miserable comforter” (a phrase used by Job for his so called “friends”) to ever be used to describe me! I never want to be guilty of using “truth” in such a way that it inflicts additional pain on sincere, godly friends who are already hurting. I want to practice what Paul’s epistle to the Colossians recommends: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience…And above all of these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:12-14) Help me Lord!