Posted by: mikenicholsblog | January 13, 2013

God still speaks

I wonder how many times in my life the words “with friends like that, who needs enemies” have exited my lips? Over the last week, I have seen a dramatic picture of friends that easily judged a man who had lost his family, wealth and health in direct attacks by Satan himself. My honest opinion of these condescending judges has been less than favorable. But then on Saturday morning as I was reading about a younger man (Elihu) who was weighing in on Job’s situation, my thoughts turned inward. My conclusion: I am also guilty of too easily judging others. How about you?

There were four men that gave strong diatribes at Job. Their words were laced with truth, but in my opinion were often misplaced.  Three of Job’s friends (Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar) felt that his suffering came because of sin. These men are an example to all of us of what not to do when we want to help a struggling friend. When words of care and comfort were needed, these men quickly became condescending and calloused. Their responses are admittedly a strong illustration of judging, but my concern is that I too can be more of a judge and less of a care giver.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to have strong opinions about a friend’s situation? You and I most certainly wouldn’t go to the limits that Job’s friends took him, but our opinions (even unspoken) can still be pretty ruthless and uncaring.  Have you ever seen someone you love in a dilemma, and before you catch yourself you have sized up the problem, given clear directions about a solution and missed the opportunity to really care. I have!  I must confess that it is easy for me to look at a friend or family member and have all the answers. The problem is I don’t, but I know someone who does. In the suffering of Job, God finally spoke. And believe me, His answers are far better than mine.

I can tell you for sure how I want to be treated when a rough patch comes to my life.  I want friends who listen, care and aren’t interested in judging me, but loving me instead.  I’d be shocked if you didn’t feel the same way. If that is the way we want to be treated, then we should take the counsel found in Matthew 7:1-5 (MSG). The words remind me of Job’s verbal executioners, and they remind me of how I should respond to those I love and care for.

Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, and criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

My goal in life is never to play the judge. I have just been reminded this weekend that I don’t have all the answers. This week you and I will have the opportunity to judge someone we care about. Their faults, weaknesses, misplaced views, etc… may enter our mind, but we can use that very moment instead to intervene in their time of need. We can sit, listen and be an encourager. Isn’t that what we would want?

God still speaks … and we should let Him!


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