Have you spotted yourself among the four people we are studying? We’re all in the text.
I’ve been Job. So have you. When friendship and love were extended to us, we were too overwhelmed to benefit from the well-intended help. We were trembling on the verge of tears, too emotionally thin to listen.
We’ve been one of the friends. Honestly desiring to help and wanting another’s happiness, but believing there was a legitimate barrier to joy that the hurting person was responsible to remove.
We’ve been Bomber Bil. Instead of genuinely listening and answering questions – because we knew the other person was wrong – we’ve justified ourselves to protect the status quo.
And we’ve played Zophar. We have gotten behind closed doors and self-righteously said, “That guy deserves worse. If people had not bent over backwards for him, and carried him, that guy would be in serious trouble. He ought to be grateful his situation isn’t worse. I wish God would open His mouth against Job and deal out some thunder and lightning. (v. 5, 6)*
We will play all the parts. At some time in this life, we will be Job, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar.
If the Holy Spirit spoke aloud, He might give us the following checklist to help us listen when confronting people we think desperately need correction:
1. Give your opponent more credit than you feel is appropriate – that will balance the bias that sin has brought into every life (Ps. 19:12).
2. Don’t arrogantly claim that your own opinions are directly from the Almighty (as Zophar and Elihu did — 11:3; 36:4).
3. Realize that God will probably not correct people on your timetable. God seems very willing to give up a now settlement to develop character in His followers (Jeremiah 28:11).
4. Remain non-inflammatory in summarizing your opponent’s views (Proverbs 16:32).
5. Apply the golden rule (Matthew 7:12) by refusing to seize your opponent’s fringe arguments. Since all of us make extreme statements occasionally, be gracious. Focus on the main thing, not the fringe thoughts.