Practical Application of the Word of God
This post goes hand-in-hand with “Talebearing, Gossip, Criticism, and Condemnation in the 21st Century” and “Ignorance, Labeling, and Concretized Christianity” and the three posts should be considered together as we actively seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness. I would recommend reading the book of Job as well, with these things in mind.
Job’s friends (Elihu is excepted from this group, even by God) were sure they had all the answers to why Job suffered through what he suffered through.
In fact, Job’s friends were so sure of their own righteousness, wisdom, insight, and understanding that they continually lectured Job on what was wrong with him (this included slamming him for voicing both his physical and spiritual misery and for asking why he was going through this series of one-on-top-the-other-and-severe trials all at once).
Job’s friends were also absolutely sure they knew why God was allowing this trial (Job had sinned and hadn’t repented, according to his friends).
With friends like Job’s friends, who needs enemies?
And, yet, if we have lived even a little time as a Christian on this planet, we’ve likely had our own “Job’s friends” experiences with our spiritual brothers and sisters who claim to be our friends. I certainly have and it’s given me a whole lot more empathy, insight, and connectedness to what Job went through with his friends.
And whether we realize it or not, we see this “Job’s friends” behavior more and more on social media, where the whole world can see the condemnation, self-righteousness, lack of empathy, lack of mercy, lack of kindness, lack of gentleness, and judgmentalness.
Beside the fact that this kind of behavior is not godly (we will look at God’s response to Job’s friends and what Job did for them in spite of their behavior at God’s request), it is also a betrayal, not only of trust, but of the person being condemned. In that respect, we are imitating Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus Christ.
There are two very troubling aspects to this public condemnation, judgmentalness, and betrayal that become apparent.
One is how many of the people (many in the body of Christ, including the ministry and/or their wives) in the condemner’s social network agree with their condemnation (without knowing the person or the situation at all), cheer the condemner on in their condemnation, and spread it on their own social networks.
The other aspect is that the condemner is guilty of some of the same behavior that they are condemning. Jeremiah was inspired by God to say that the human heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked – and that includes your heart and my heart – and this is in-your-face-proof that God knows the state deep down of each of our hearts better than we do.
Let’s look at a real example from this week on Facebook. There were 35 “likes” and 12 “attaboy” comments.
I’m simply going to include this without any comment. It is up to each of us, using this post and the two companion posts, the book of Job, God’s spirit (on a daily basis, we should always be praying for understanding and discernment as we intersect with life, and ask God for help in applying His word to life), and God’s word to identify how this behavior mirrors that of Job’s friends.
The post and then a followup comment by the poster in response to the “attaboy” comments:
“Of all the approaches to relationships that someone may take, the ‘victim’ act is the most frustrating to me.
*If you don’t like your life, change it. Even if it’s a baby step at a time, make change.
*If people are avoiding you, ask what you have done to contribute to the situation and work on you. Rather than assume they are the problem. Especially if it’s a pattern in your life with various people. If you have driven people away, you need to be the one to bring them back. The ball is in your court. Toss the first effort.
*If you feel someone has hurt you, talk to them about it… and not to everyone else to gain support from individuals with only half the story.
*The world isn’t out to get you. Satan is, and by making this statement, you’re giving in when you need to have the faith you may talk about having.
*Even if you find yourself in an ‘unfair’ situation in life, (that is clearly not the possible result of your own actions/behavior… ) LEARN from it and make it an opportunity to help others with your experience. Don’t waste your life in ‘woe is me’ mode. Put your energy into serving others instead of ‘me’…
…’Victims’ rarely think about what they put others through with their behavior. It can damage even the most important relationships in life. It’s upsetting but we have all had to leave a victim or two in our life, to their own pity party.
So wish it weren’t so. But you can’t be drug down with it.
The beautiful part is, life isn’t over… it can be different if someone really wants it to be better”
Now let’s go back to Job and see what his friends didn’t know and God’s perspective and response – because God’s perspective and response is what we are to be putting on, while we’re taking off our human, carnal perspective – are.
Job’s friends accused him of sinning against God and his many excruciating trials were the result of Job’s lack of repentance, for which they condemned him.
Was that true?
Where did Job’s severe trials come from? Satan! Has this conversation between God and Satan ever been about you? About me? Many times?
I guarantee it because Satan never changes his methods (Christ told Peter in Luke 22:31 that Satan had asked for him that he might sift him – Peter – like wheat, and in the next verse we see that God had granted Satan what he asked, just as God did with Job).
We’re told In Job 2:10 that, even after all these calamities hit Job (and he did a good bit of “woe is me” and “negative” talk throughout these trials), “in all this Job did not sin with his lips.”
I’ve heard people say “well, nobody has ever suffered like Job.” And, you know what? That is a totally ridiculous statement made out of ignorance or lack of understanding and comprehension.
Job had a lot of stuff and people to lose and he lost it all, and then his health, retaining only a painful and miserable existence, but how many of us with less stuff and less people have lost it all, including our health, and have been left with nothing but a painful and miserable existence?
In other words, the amount of stuff and people lost is immaterial. Losing everything, including health, whether you have a little or a lot, puts us in the same circumstances – and the same degree of suffering – as Job.
To suggest otherwise, and I’ve heard it enough to know this is how a lot of Christians think and this is what they believe, is really minimizing and dismissing the suffering right in front of us.
It might a good idea to go back and read Matthew 25:31-46 and see how Christ looks at dismissing and minimizing our brothers and sisters in the faith in whatever life conditions they are having to endure and suffer through.
And, in the end, it was Job’s friends who sinned against God and not Job. In Job 42:7, God says “And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.'”
And then look at what happened next. God was so angry with Job’s friends for their sins against Him (which they committed while condemning Job) that He commanded them to offer sin offerings and He commanded Job to pray for them.
Why was Job supposed to pray for them? James 5:16. God was telling Job’s friends that He considered Job righteous, because there was no doubt that God wasn’t going to intercede for Job’s friends at Job’s request.
And Job demonstrated that righteousness by praying for his friends who had condemned, criticized, and accused him every step of the way.
I urge you to think about all of this – and God’s own words – the next time you’re about ready to bear a tale, gossip, criticize, condemn, label, ascribe motive, accuse, and let somebody who “deserves it” have it.
We never have the whole story about anything in life, including the things that happen in our lives. To assume we do and start making pronouncements about them and the people being affected is literally making ourselves God in place of God. This is idolatry on a very personal level.
The story of God, Satan, Job and his friends should never be far from our perspective when we think we know what’s going with someone else in the faith and we believe they are wrong.
The odds are awfully good that we’re going to end up being the ones who are wrong.