What kind of friend are you? Close? Fair weather? Foul weather? True blue? Or are you even a friend at all? Perhaps you’re just a close (or maybe not that close) acquaintance.
Job supposedly had three “friends.” I say it that way because they came up short in the real friend department.
Job 2:11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him.
12 And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven.
13 So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.
Job 42:7 And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.
Obviously they started well. That is, when they kept their mouths shut. They had come together with good intentions, to sit and mourn with their friend, Job. But eventually the weight of their great wisdom got the better of them, and they decided Job needed an intervention. He obviously didn’t realize God wouldn’t be punishing him this way unless he deserved it. So they set about to straighten him out.
Problem was, they were completely wrong. About everything. Especially about God and His reasons for allowing certain actions. God eventually had enough. He made it clear in no uncertain terms He was angry with the three friends for accusing God of being something He was not.
The point was, they didn’t know. They spoke out of what they thought God was like, not out of great knowledge or apparently even a relationship with Him. And since they didn’t know, the wisest course of action was to remain silent and simply comfort their friend, which is why they had come anyway.
It’s easy to jump on these three. Their mistakes are obvious. But we fail to see we’re no better. I recently had some issues I’d taken before God. And I wanted to share those concerns with my church family to get their Godly take on them as well as hopefully receive some encouragement. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.
Most everyone is totally negative about the whole situation. They are quick to point out the worst-case scenario. Nothing about the wonderful possibilities which God could bring about. Some didn’t even listen to the entire story to hear the details. They rushed to judgment on aspects which didn’t even pertain to the issue. Rather disheartening to say the least, and has even lowered my respect and appraisal of some.
I guess what I was expecting was someone to listen completely to what I had to say so they would know the whole situation. Then, if they’d been given any insight from God on the issue, they could share that. If not, then say they don’t know and offer to pray about it with me to seek what God says.
It seemed like I got a lot of cliches and Platonic advice. It was like no one wanted to go out on a limb to suggest what God might be doing in the situation or that God had any input on it at all. There was nothing to suggest that anyone had any notion that God was interested, that He could do the impossible, and that we needed to earnestly seek Him and ask Him what I needed to do. A lot of sharing what we know of God from our own wisdom. A lot of doing exactly what the three friends did.
I admit, my first reactions were disappointment and discouragement. I immediately determined I wasn’t going to waste my time seeking anyone else’s opinions. Which is not a good idea, nor what the Bible says we should do. I realized we’re all too prone to rely on our own wisdom instead of seeking God’s. And I needed to do what God told Job to do, pray for his friends. So I did.
I take friendship very seriously. I’ve always tried to be loyal and supportive even when others didn’t return the same. I’ve come to the conclusion that to be the best friend I should always point my friends to Jesus. If they need help with something, lets check with God first.
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. It’s too easy to be a Bildad.