Tuesday, January 19, 2010

One Year Bible, Week 2

This week, the blueletterbible.org chronological reading plan had me reading in Job. So far, I've read thru chapter 31, and looking back, I've found one thing for sure: Job's friends are jerks.

In Christian apologetics, we are taught to always give a reason for the hope that we have, and to do so with gentleness and respect, and that the ultimate goal is to win the person. Unfortunately, well-meaning Christians often will strive to win the argument at all cost, including at the expense of the person who they are trying to win. And this is the script that Job's friends followed.

Often people will jump straight to the end conclusion that Job's friends are jerks and have no sympathy for Job. But I don't think they intended to end up in the conversation they had. After Job lost everything- his wealth, his children, his health- his friends showed an amazing level of compassion towards Job by sitting on the ground with him for SEVEN days and nights in silence! I can't even imagine sitting still with some one for a single day, let alone 7 days!

The text doesn't tell us, but its possible that they were fasting during this time for their tragedy-strucken friend, who they apparently cared for deeply. But somewhere along the way, they forgot their love for Job, and felt like it was their duty to play God in Job's life and tell Job to repent of his many sins. After all, (in their mind) only the rebellious sinner suffers in this life, not the righteous....

There's a lot for us to be learned here. Probably the biggest thing I came away with is that when people are hurting or grieving, they don't need to hear your words as much as they need to feel that you care. Often a friends mere presence in our time of grief speaks volumes about how much they love us.

There is a time to talk through the questions and emotions, and when that time comes, don't follow the lead of Job's friends. If it is more important for you to be right than to grieve with your friend, then you will inevitably accomplish your goal to win the argument, and not the person.

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