The Job Series: Considering the Source

Overwhelmed by his circumstances, Job’s friends surrounded him to provide comfort- namely Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar and Elihu. After Job’s monologue in Chapter Three, these friends would prove to be “miserable comforters.” During the three rounds of discussions, Job reveals five key points for comforting those in pain.

  1. Avoid babbling
  2. Do not lecture or give evasive answers
  3. Do not criticize
  4. Try to empathize by placing yourself in the other person’s place
  5. Identify ways to help and encourage then follow through

Job’s friends failed on all five points. Instead of providing comfort, they condemned Job for causing his own suffering. In addition to being miserable comforters, they all had flawed and differing viewpoints regarding suffering, wisdom, and their attitudes towards God.

Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar shared the belief that Job’s suffering was due to sin. This was not the case with Job as God was using Job to silence Satan. Unlike the other three friends, Elihu believed that God was using suffering to mold and train Job. This answer was partially true, but incomplete.

Each of his friends varied regarding the source of wisdom. Eliphaz believed that wisdom was obtained through personal observations and life experiences. Bildad depended upon the secondhand knowledge of traditional proverbs and sayings. Zophar’s position was that wisdom belonged to the wise. Elihu recognized that God was the only source of true wisdom, but he did not use God’s wisdom to help Job. God is our ultimate source of wisdom. (James 3:13-18, NIV)

Job’s friends possessed conflicting views on God and how God operates. Through his personal observations, Eliphaz claimed to have a full knowledge of God and how he operates. Bildad contended that their predecessors understood God; therefore, following their knowledge is key. Zophar considered himself wise and believed that only the wise understood the nature of God. Elihu conveyed that God was speaking, but Job was not listening. Who can fathom all of God’s ways? (Isiah 55:8-9, NIV)

Although each friend had nuggets of truth within their explanations, their answers were incomplete and often misleading. It is imperative when seeking counsel that we scrutinize the character and values of the advisor. The Bible tells us of the benefits of godly counsel and the detriments of ungodly counsel. (Proverbs 12:5, NIV) To evaluate the merit of one’s advice we must factor in the person’s motives. Our friends and family may offer misleading advice based upon the own fears, insecurity, or obtuseness.

We should Identify godly counsel by testing the spirit. (1 John 4:1, NIV) Does this individual have a personal relationship with God? Is the advice offered in alignment to God’s word? Does the advisor have any ulterior motive? While it is wise to seek guidance from a group of advisors that form a harmonious consensus, we cannot assume that the majority is always correct. Therefore, test and ensure that the guidance we receive is true, honest, just, pure, loving, of good report that would glorify God. (Philippians 4:8, NIV) Before soliciting advice or entertaining advice offered, we must consider the source.

The Job Series: What Type of Encourager are You?

“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17, KJV) Unlike “fair weather” friends, our true friends support us during good and bad times. At the end of Chapter Two, Job’s three friends – Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, heard of Job’s hardships and went visit Job to provide comfort. For seven days they sat with Job in silence empathizing with Job’s pain.

In Chapter Three, Job breaks the silence by cursing the day he was born. It was evident that Job was depressed. He suffered great losses. He had an estranged wife, deceased children, and lost his source of income. Now, his health is failing. When most of Job’s friends and family had forsaken him Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar where there to give him support. (Job 19:14) Another one of Job’s friends, Elihu, is also present during the time of these discussions. After Job’s speech in Chapter Three, Job and friends have three rounds of discussions. During the discussions we learn that Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar are horrible encouragers.

When we are being tested by trials, who are members of our support system and what type of support do they offer? Do they offer you godly advice, pray with you, and help keep you grounded? Or do they offer poor guidance, encourage bad behavior, and make empty promises of support? In the case of Job, all of his friends had great intentions but their ignorance regarding his plight led them to rebuke Job at a time where he needed to be uplift.

The Apostle Paul offers an “Encourager’s Checklist” in I Thessalonians 5:11-23. When we set out to encourage, we should be respectful and not judgmental. We should promote harmony, not discord, as well as avoid every kind of evil, and resist retaliation. We need to remind the injured party that God is in control. We need to pray continually, be prepared to listen, and follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Lastly, during this time of conversation and connection with God, we need to remember to be patient and reassuring during this process.

In Colossians Chapter One, the Apostle Paul offers four points regarding prayer for one another. One, we should be thankful for their faith and changed lives. Two, we should ask God to provide them with clarity and deep spiritual understanding. Three, we pray for God to help our Brother or Sister in Christ to live their lives for Him. Four, we should seek God and ask to continually be filled with joy, strength, peace, and thankfulness.

Are we good encouragers that offer godly counsel, compassion, and prayer? Or do we encourage bad behaviors? Do we offer someone a shot a whiskey, revenge tactics, or other advice that will not address their problem but satisfy the desires of their carnal nature? What type of encouragers are we?