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18(Job 08,1-9) Friendly Advice

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I. Wrong words at the wrong time.

A.    When your foot is in your mouth.

B.    Job's friends said wrong words, but didn't realize it.

1.     Much of what they say is excellent theology.

a.     We say it ourselves, from pulpit.

2.     Unfortunately, it didn't apply to Job.

a.     The conventional wisdom is not always right.

II.  Job's three friends.

A.    Eliphaz, the Behaviorist. (Job 4-5)

1.     His attitude.

a.     Insulting.                       "Who can keep you from speaking?" (4:2)

b.     Falsely religious?          "I had a vision." (4:12)

c.     Arrogant.                       "It's true. Hear it and apply it." (5:27)

2.     His argument.

a.     My wisdom comes from personal observation.

1.     God rewards those who obey him.

2.     He punishes those who sin.

3.     Job is suffering - he must have done something wrong.

b.     God is disciplining Job. (5:17)

1.     Come clean and God will bless you again. (5:19)

2.     Blessing means no harm whatsoever.

B. Bildad, the Traditionalist. (Job 8)

1.     His attitude.

a.     Heartless.                      "Your kids died due to their sin." (8:4)

2.     His argument.

a.     My wisdom comes from previous generations.

1.     God has always worked this way. (8:8)

2.     Job is forgetting God and acting godless. (8:13)

b.     Job needs to put his trust back in God. (8:14)

C. Zophar, the Religionist. (Job 11)

1.     His attitude.

a.     Ticked off at Job.        "Will no one rebuke you?" (11:3)

b.     Most arrogant friend.

2.     His argument.

a.     My wisdom comes straight from God. (11:6)

1)    Some sin already forgotten - how does Zophar know?

b.     If God speaks, he'll trash you, Job. (11:5)

c.     Don't question God.

d.     Get right with God and put away your sin. (11:13)

III. What Job's friends did, and you shouldn't.

A.    Make false assumptions about how our hurting friend feels.

1.     Two statements to avoid at all costs.

a.     "I know just how you feel."

1.     You don't, at least they will feel you don't.

2.     This seems to shift the attention to you, not them, especially if you follow with a personal story.

b.     "Don't feel that way!"

1.     We tell them not to be depressed, or angry, or negative.

i. We tell them God loves them so they shouldn't feel that way.

2.     Telling them not to feel this way, only gives them one more reason to.

i. Let them know you'll stand by them, no matter how negative they get.

B.    Make false assumptions about God's plan behind the trouble.

1.     Misusing religion is a big mistake, but common.

2.     Many Christians say, "God is trying to teach you something."

C.    Have a patronizing attitude.

1.     You may have insight, but you don't have all the answers.

D.    Be blunt, uncaring, and unsympathetic.

1.     Job's biggest complaint is that they have no compassion for him. (6:14)

2.     When people are sick or sorrowing, they are emotionally fragile.

a.     Remember that they need extra affirmation, even about little things.

IV. What to do.

A.    "Be quick to listen, slow to speak." (James 1:19)

1.     The key to good listening is first to stop talking.

a.     Eager to relieve another's pain, we are often quick to pontificate.

b.     Look at Job:

1.     He freely blurts out his own troubles. (10:1)

2.     But he wants his friends to shut up. (13:5)

2.     How to respond to someone in pain.

a.     Advice from an expert.

Paul Welter says that "a response no longer than 12 seconds is usually an effective length in a counseling or helping situation." In 12 seconds, one can say two sentences, or a total of about 25 words. Welter says "a consistent response length of over 20-30 seconds presents a major problem." What we communicate by more lengthy answers is, "I want to talk TO you rather than talk WITH you." If our responses are long, then the focus is taken off the person we are trying to help and the helping process is slowed down.

b.     One of the reasons we talk rather than listen is that we do not like to face negative feelings.

1.     We don't feel comfortable when friends are angry at God, or feel they are losing their faith.

2.     These feelings challenge our own faith - and we don't have easy answers for them.

B. Listening requires an understanding spirit.

1.     It is more than not talking.

a. Try to understand what lies behind the words we hear.

2.     After listening, show your friend you have heard them.

a. Often a one-sentence paraphrase is enough.

b. They can then clarify, or add more information.

Henri Nouwen, in "Out of Solitude," says, "When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand."

C. Show compassion.

1.     Just being there for them makes a statement.

2.     Pray for them when they feel they cannot pray.

3.     Extend a helping hand.

V.  The ultimate solution.

A. Three things that won't work.

1.     Job cannot gloss over his pain. (9:27)

a.     Pasting on a smile doesn't work.

2.     Job cannot cleanse himself. (9:30)

a.     If God doesn't want him clean, nothing will work.

3.     Job cannot sue God and expect to win. (9:32)

B. What we need is an arbitrator, a mediator. (9:33)

1.     Someone to come between the two parties.

a.     Someone to be an honest broker, not with own agenda.

b.     Only then would the terror go away.

2.     What Job longed for, we have in Jesus.

a.     He is the mediator between God and humans.     1 Tim 2:5

b.     He has "been there," experiencing pain just like us.

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