“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. He bestows rain on the earth; he sends water upon the countryside. The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.”
“Surely God does not reject a blameless man or strengthen the hands of evildoers. He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.”
“if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then you will lift up your face without shame; you will stand firm and without fear. You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by.”
The words above are found in the Bible and I think we can all agree that they speak the truth about the depth of God’s love for us, his children. These verses could certainly be used to give encouragement and hope to a friend going through a difficult time. However, the people who spoke these words did not speak them in love or with the intention of lifting up a hurting friend. In fact, it was quite the opposite. When Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar said these words to their friend Job, their intention was to convince Job that it was the sin and error in his life that caused God to punish him.
Remember, Job had just lost his home, his children, his wealth and his health. Instead of empathy, these three friends only offered judgment and condemnation. And, God was not pleased with their advice to Job. In fact, the bible tells us that, “After the LORD 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 Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly.” Job 42:7-8
I believe the lesson here is that there is a big difference between speaking the truth and speaking the truth in love. We can say all kinds of holy and truthful things, even quote scripture to people, but if it’s not done with a spirit of love and grace it is worthless, a “folly”. It is so tempting when someone comes to us with a problem to point out what got them there in the first place, but when is that helpful? It’s also important to remember this when we are the ones listening. Be wary of very “religious” people that use their biblical knowledge like a magnifying glass to expose the sin.
Will you join me in praying that God will lead us to people who are filled with wisdom and love. And, that we will remember to carefully search our own hearts before we offer advice to others.