Remember Job

By Francis Frangipane
(En EspaƱol)

There is much to say about the book of Job. Many scholars believe it is the oldest book of the Bible; all agree that it predates the wisdom books (Proverbs, Psalms, etc.). Another interesting insight is this: Job was not an Israelite. So the antiquity of this book combined with its Gentile hero makes it unique among all Old Testament Scriptures.

Yet there is another narrative that is actually my main point of interest. The story of Job is not only about an innocent man suffering unjustly from a satanic attack; the bulk of the story concerns the suffering Job endured from his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar (and later Elihu). These men, probably religious scholars of their day, were friends of Job. Yet during his distress they falsely judged him; they became his accusers.

In defense of Job's friends, upon seeing Job's great suffering they threw dust on their heads and wept. Then they sat with him in silence for seven days. Only after Job spoke did they finally open their mouths in response. They began with reverence, weeping and compassion (a place we might consider before we callously offer our opinions). However, it is plain that their pride and religious opinions eventually overcame their compassions toward Job.

It should also be noted that, generally speaking, Job's friends had right doctrines. Their error was not so much in their theology as much as their assigning the role of sinner to Job. They did not have enough humility to see that they could be wrong. God's view was that Job was not a sinner. In fact, according to the Lord, Job was the most righteous man in the world. He was not just a relatively good man among other good men, but among all men there was "no one like him on the earth" (Job 1:8). In God's eyes Job was in a class by himself: three times he was called a "blameless and upright man" by God (Job 1:1, 8; 2:3).

We know it was wrong of Job's friends to falsely accuse him. Yet isn't it ironic that still today people cannot help but find fault with Job! If we read some modern interpretations of the book of Job, we find critics are still blaming Job for his suffering. Some say Job's devastation occurred because of unbelief; others say his fear opened the door to the adversary. And still others feel Job must have had some sin that left him vulnerable to the devil's attack. How is it that people cannot see this stunning reality: NONE of the things spoken against Job -- not 3,500 years ago nor today -- were right!

My point is this: the instinct to judge and criticize without having all the information is not only rampant in the world, it is also in us. If we think Job caused his own troubles, then we are as deceived as the three "friends" who wrongly accused him. In fact, we are worse, because they did not know Satan was behind the attack or that God had declared Job a blameless man. In contrast, we have the Scriptures and testimony of God. Yet in spite of what we can plainly read, our religious minds hunger to find fault.

Could it be that the take-away message of the book of Job -- the reason it is in the Bible in the first place -- is to provide a vivid example that it is wrong to judge without knowing all the facts? Indeed, the book of Job is a portrait of people with a religious mindset who are self-assured they are right, who judge without having truly heard from God.

God placed the life story of Job in the most sacred Book in the world for a reason: that we would not be so confident that our judgments are always right. The fact is, throughout history good people, godly people, have been lied about, slandered, blamed and persecuted! Of course, we know that the wicked suffer, but do we take into account that so also do the righteous? And the main accusers of the righteous are not necessarily the openly godless, but the self-righteous religious leaders of the day.

Job's friends had right doctrines that were wrongly applied.

In Conclusion
Of course, there are people who have sinned and done terrible things. I am not saying we should gloss over these atrocities. Of course, if you see injustice of some kind that is unmistakably evil -- yes, judge and then act to bring swift justice. But in most cases the issues of a person's heart are not so obvious. Therefore, I make my appeal to you: before you judge, remember Job and why his story is in the Bible.

Finally, with grace upon my words let me say we must crucify our instincts to judge. When Job's family came, they invested in him their love and gifts. They restored him. They did what love would do, what Christ would do. As He has been to us, so we should be to others. We can possess the very same "mind … which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5 KJV). We can remember the story of Job.


Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, Spiritual Discernment and the Mind of Christ available at www.arrowbookstore.com.