Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Comforters with Contempt: Job 16:4-5

"I too could speak like you, if I were in your place. I could compose words against you and shake my head at you. I could strengthen you with my mouth, and the solace of my lips could lessen your pain." (Job 16:4-5)
It is so easy to find fault with other people, especially when they are not doing well. It usually does not take a "gift of discernment" to see the problems in other peoples lives. Often, the gulf between us who are at ease and those who are in pain is so great, that it's hard for us to understand what others are going through. We view their situation through the lens of our present ease and wonder why they are having so much trouble. It is so easy to view with contempt those who are having a more difficult time than ourselves.

Job reminds his friends of this very fact. He reminds them that, if the situations were reversed, he too could judge them for their failings and find all kinds of faults in their lives. But Job also shows us something very important about helping others in difficulty. What is important is the motivation behind our help; why we are helping. Is our motivation to show someone where they have failed, to show them their faults? Is it to place upon them blame and shame in hopes of getting them to turn their own situation around? Or is it for the genuine care and comfort of those who are afflicted. Job says he could have attacked his fiends with cruel words, or he could have comforted them, given them solace, with his words. What we say is determined by what our motivation is.

This reminds me of what James said, "For the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God." (James 1:20) What James is saying is that if, when there is an issue in one of our relationships, our goal is to "blow off steam" and make ourselves feel better, then anger may be the right prescription. If, however, our goal is to see the righteousness of God come into our life and our relationships, then perhaps we need to find another remedy. The same is true when we are trying to comfort the afflicted. If our goal is to prove our righteousness (as evidenced by our blessing) and their sin (as evidenced by their calamity) then judgment and accusation are the way to go. If, however, we truly care about the other person and desire to show them the love, compassion, and mercy of God, then we must think of others before we think of ourselves.

David Robison

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed your studies. God bless and keep up the good blogging. Check out Forerunners of the Future.