“After Job had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant will pray for you. And I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me which is right as my servant Job has.” Job 42:7-9
After my husband lost his job in Chicago several years ago, we spent months trying to sell our house. The recession has just hit and home buyers were jittery about buying property. After several months went by, I talked to the pastor of congregational care at our church and asked if he could pay a visit to our house to cheer us up.
After a short visit over coffee we shared with him a vision we had and how because of the vision we’d sunk some money into the venture. But far from being enthusiastic, he decided to give us a reality check.
He turned to my husband. “You’ll never get that money back,” he blurted out with amazing confidence. “I’ve seen investments like that and they never work.”
We were sliding our way towards broke and needed prayer. What we got was an uneducated opinion. I kicked myself for ever inviting one of Job’s friends over. Why was I so foolish?
In the above scripture, God reminds us to be very careful with those bearing weighty burdens. Tread lightly with those suffering and be cautious before suggesting that the victim has brought the situation on himself. And even if he has, where does, “I told you so,” help anyone? Yes, Job’s friends sat down with him in the ash heap as they watched him scrape his boils with pieces of broken pottery but their “wisdom” only sunk Job to lower levels of despair.
And as I study Job, I have to ask myself if I’ve ever been one of Job’s friends. I, who can have an overabundance of advice and an active tongue have been known to add my two cents before I know what I’m talking about. It’s a short trip across the line from helpful to an obnoxious know-it-all.
And in case you missed it, Job’s friends were personally chastised by God. Their pride and arrogance led God to tell them they needed offer a sacrifice for how they treated Job. Now that’s a scary thought. It should make us all cautious about giving advice.
We all need encouragement whether we have done some stupid or stupid has been done to us. Life is hard enough without unnecessary guilt.
Prayer: Lord, help us to consider what to say when we counsel those struggling. Keep pride out of our exhortations and let our words never let stumble. Let us not harbor resentments to those who have intentionally or unintentionally hurt us. Amen.
Carol Grace Stratton has written two books. Her first book, Changing Zip Codes is a devotional to help people move and adjust to a new location. Her second book and debut novel, Lake Surrender tells the story of a single mom who moves from California to Northern Michigan to start her life over as a cook in a Christian camp.
Currently Carol lives in North Carolina with her husband, John She’s working on a sequel to Lake Surrender and blogging at carolgstratton.com. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.