Tag Archives: job

Job Decries Judgmental Attitudes as Non-Christian

Job 16:1-5
1 Then Job replied: 2 “I have heard many things like these; miserable comforters are you all! 3 Will your long-winded speeches never end? What ails you that you keep on arguing? 4 I also could speak like you, if you were in my place; I could make fine speeches against you and shake my head at you. 5 But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.”

All throughout the Book of Job, three “counselors” try to tell Job why he’s suffering, telling him how he “deserves what’s coming to him” because he is human and therefore evil in God’s sight. Chapter 15, for example, is nothing but a diatribe against Job and people like him–sinful people who do not deserve blessings. So in chapter 16, Job answers this “Christian-esque” criticism with some pointed replies that many modern non-Christians have echoed even today.

I believe this passage is very appropriate for all of us Christians to read and learn from today, because the Christian church today is known as a prideful, judgmental institution among nonbelievers. Sounds harsh, but it’s a widely-held belief. Ask any random non-Christian what they think about “the church,” and you will inevitably hear some variation of that definition. For that matter, I used to think the same myself. Sadly, people see the Christian church as judgmental rather than helpful to people in need; the so-called Christian response to the AIDS epidemic is one glaring example, with actual churchgoers often saying things like “Well, why should I care about AIDS? It’s just a gay disease–if they weren’t sinning, they wouldn’t get it.”

On this and many other social, physical, and emotional issues, people simply don’t like to ask Christians for help anymore, for fear they will be judged and ridiculed. Job was no stranger to this kind of attitude, and that’s what he’s arguing against in this passage. He doesn’t want to be told how he deserves the suffering he’s enduring; he wants someone to understand, and to help with compassion and caring.

It’s all too easy to judge those who are suffering as somehow “deserving” of what’s happened to them, especially if a string of bad decisions has led them to their current state. But those who are suffering need compassion, the exact kind of compassion Jesus showed in the New Testament. They need someone to understand their situations, pray with them, and act as a beacon of God’s mercy and grace against the despair that threatens to claim them.

Think of it this way: a suffering person is like a drowning person in deep water. Judgmental Christians simply stand on the shoreline and shout encouragement or make gestures to tell the person to swim closer in to shore; compassionate Christians throw a rope or float to the drowning person, or even wade out into the water and drag the person back to shore. That is the difference between being condescendingly righteous when you help someone, versus being gently compassionate. Let’s make a conscious choice to be the compassionate Christian–after all, someday we may be the one drowning in deep water, and in need of someone to drag us back to shore.

How the Christian Life Can Sometimes Feel

Job 31:35
35 Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense–let the Almighty answer me; let my accuser put his indictment in writing.

Here, Job, who feels he has suffered unjust accusations either from his three human friends or even God Himself, cries out his desire for God to hear his claim of innocence, and free him from further suffering. He has lost everything he ever worked for, everything else he ever cherished, and now it seems he stands to lose his connection to God as well. He feels as punished as if God has set down intentional judgments on him for sins as yet unknown.

Living a Christian life does not mean a life free of troubles. In fact, sometimes it seems that the life of a Christian is especially beset by trials; Job’s case is an extreme example of this. Loss of livelihood and/or health, financial or emotional disasters, family and relationship strife, stress from work–all these and many other sources of sorrow can beleaguer us, and seem to be all the more painful to endure because we feel we have been faithful to God. Sometimes, in the most trying of circumstances, we can even begin to wonder what all the worship and devotion was for, if God is allowing such awful things to happen to us.

The important thing to remember when facing trials is that God is right there with you, in the thick of it, and He will never abandon you. Just as God never abandoned Job, and eventually restored his life to rights (see chapter 42 in the Book of Job), He will also do the same for us.

Why did God restore Job? Because he continued to pray to God and speak to God honestly, never doubting that God was there and never doubting that God would answer his need. As long as we keep trusting in God and praying, our trials too will pass and be replaced with joy, even if it’s long in coming.

God Loves Us Despite Ourselves

Job 26:1-4

1 Then Job replied: 2 “How you have helped the powerless! How you have saved the arm that is feeble! 3 What advice you have offered to one without wisdom! And what great insight you have displayed! 4 Who has helped you utter these words? And whose spirit spoke from your mouth?”

Without the context of the rest of the Book of Job, one might think that Job is talking about God here, helping the powerless, advising ones without wisdom…but actually, Job is addressing the last of three “friends” who have been trying (and failing) to advise him since God has apparently stricken him with many curses.

(In fact, Job is in the middle of an argument between God and Satan. Satan wants to see Job curse God, and God knows it can’t be done, but Satan’s trying everything he can anyway, tearing everything away from Job [family, livelihood, even health]. And though Job is suffering, he still clings to his faith, as God knew he would.)

But the three friends who are trying to advise Job keep on talking about how depraved and worthless humanity is, especially the last guy who just talked before Job in chapter 25. So Job responds to him in a tone of utter sarcasm: “Yeah, man, telling me how worthless I am is REALLY helping me. You’re doing a GREAT job. You oughta get a degree in this or something. *rolling eyes*”

What Job is getting at is that yes, humanity is weak, impure, and sinful, especially when compared to God. But GOD DOESN’T CARE. God loves us anyway, and He yearns to reconnect with each one of us. Even through all the junk Job has been through, he knows the character of God: loving, eternally. And, as Job mentions at the end, his would-be advisor is not exempt from being human, either. God is way bigger than anyone can imagine, and His love is bigger than we can imagine, too.

In these first few verses, Job is contrasting his all-too-human advisor with God. Where his advisor can only ridicule or lecture him, God can truly help him, save him, and give him insight. God is greater than our troubles, greater than sin, greater than everything, and Job still trusted in Him despite all of his current woes.

Where other humans can only try to help us and love us (and often fail), God can help us and heal us completely, because He is the only one who loves us unconditionally. God truly loves us despite our frailty, despite our sins, and that love, when we accept it, is what saves us.