The right thing, but the wrong thing to say

Job had some of the worst comforters and counsellors ever. If he were not so low physically the remarks of his sage friends might have been met by blows. These guys didn’t get Job, or God for that matter. And yet, even though it was not what Job needed to hear or what they should have said, there are some rich truths in what they say. Consider Eliphaz’s words from Job 22.21-30

21 “Agree with God, and be at peace;
thereby good will come to you.
22 Receive instruction from his mouth,
and lay up his words in your heart.
23 If you return to the Almighty you will be built up;
if you remove injustice far from your tents,
24 if you lay gold in the dust,
and gold of Ophir among the stones of the torrent-bed,
25 then the Almighty will be your gold
and your precious silver.
26 For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty
and lift up your face to God.
27 You will make your prayer to him, and he will hear you,
and you will pay your vows.
28 You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you,
and light will shine on your ways.
29 For when they are humbled you say, ‘It is because of pride’;
but he saves the lowly.
30 He delivers even the one who is not innocent,
who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”

Let God be your treasure. It is not those who have no earthly treasure that need this particular counsel most*, it is those who have much in the world, whose temptation is to have something else as their treasure. Might our earthly treasures be as dust and river bed stones in our affections.

*I understand that people’s treasures are often not money or material things. Someone’s ‘gold’ might be a relationship, public esteem, their work, etc. So in one sense, all need this counsel, but in the context of the passage it seems the focus is on earthly possessions and money.


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