Monday, February 07, 2005

Job begins his final retort: Job 26

Job begins his final response and defense before his friends, his God, and himself. Job rebukes his three friends as being useless. Their wisdom and counsel had failed to help Job or to provide an answer for his sufferings. For all their many words, Job was no better off. In his rebuke, Job ask this question of his friends:
"To whom have you uttered words? And whose spirit was expressed through you?" (Job 26:4)
Whenever we set out to help someone in need, we should ask ourselves these two questions.

To whom have you uttered words?
Job's friends were so eager to give their advice and counsel, that they lost sight of the person they were trying to help. Their "help" soon turned into a contest as to who was right and who was wrong. They debated with Job in an attempt to convince him that they were right and, somewhere in the process, they forgot that they came to help Job. They became absorbed in their arguments and lost sight of Job.

This reminds me of the story where Mary Magdalene came into the Pharisee's house and anointed Jesus' feet with costly perfume and washed His feet with her hair. The Pharisees' bristled at this because she was a harlot. Jesus asked the head of the house, a Pharisee named Simon, an interesting question. Jesus asked Simon, "Do you see this woman?" (Luke 7:44) But of course he "saw" her, but did he really "see" her. The truth was that Simon could only see her sin. To him, she was not a woman but a harlot. Simon could not see past her sin to see the woman of value that God had created her to be. In truth, Simon never really saw her.

We too can easily fall into this same trap. We can become so focused on someone's problems, that we loose site of the person. When this happens it is easy to become impatient with them; with their struggles and wrestling over their problems. We allow our judgments to blind us to their intrinsic value as children of God. In our zeal to "set them straight", it is easy to forget that they are also one for whom Jesus died. We must never allow ourselves to loose sight of the person in our attempts to help them.

Whose spirit was expressed through you?
We can read to the end of the book and find out that Job's friends were not moving in the Holy Spirit. Their words were the expression of a spirit, but it was not a spirit from God. Our lives can be animated by the spirit of this world, our own human spirit, or the Spirit of God. The trick is to identify the spirit we are moving in at any given time. When we are giving our opinions, counsel, and judgments, are we moving in our own spirit? Are we partnering with an unclean spirit? Or are we manifesting the Holy Spirit. We should never presume to speak for God just because our counsel seems right to us. If we are unsure, the best thing to do is to keep quiet. Better to comfort our hurting friend with silence than to unwittingly be used by a godless spirit to further hurt and confuse them. When people are hurting, they need the Word of God. Our own words simply will not do. If we do not have God's word for a given situation, we should keep quiet and pray and ask God for such a word, and if given, share that word in a spirit of love and humility.

David Robison

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