Summary: A sermon series on Job
“God is good…All the time!”
When Friends Fail
A group of friends went deer hunting and paired off in twos for the day. That night one of the hunters returned alone, staggering under an eight-point buck. "Where’s Harry?" he was asked. "Harry had a stroke of some kind. He’s a couple of miles back up the trail." "You left Harry laying there, and carried the deer back?" "Well," said the hunter, "I figured no one was going to steal Harry." Sometimes church your friends are going to fail you, which is what we will see happening with Job’s friends today in our passage.
This morning as we think about Job’s three friends, we are going to learn some things you should never hear one friend say to another friend. In the previous lessons we learned Job lost his fortune, his family, and his fitness, but he didn’t lose his faith. In this chapter we are introduced to Job’s three friends who have come to, so call, comfort him. But they don’t help him, instead their words of accusation only add to Job’s torment. They say things you should never hear a friend say. As we will see this morning, these so called friends begin to point the finger at Job and say you’re guilty, that’s why you’re suffering. With friends like these, who needs enemies? Let’s meet them in Job 2:11-13.
Now if that were all we ever knew about these three friends, they would have been heroes, but instead they started talking! The vast majority of the book is given over to the unwise words given by these friends and Job’s response to each one. These three friends basically say the same thing: “Job, you are suffering because you are wicked.” Eliphaz speaks first, and then Job responds to Eliphaz. Then Bildad speaks, and Job responds. Then Zophar speaks, and Job responds. This cycle repeats itself three full times. We won’t take time to examine every word they spoke. Instead, this morning I want to examine the attitudes expressed by these friends. They show us both the wrong way and the right way to help a friend who’s suffering.
I. THE WRONG WAY.
Much of what the friends said was theologically correct, but they made two fundamental mistakes. If you’re trying to help a hurting friend you must avoid these two errors.
1. Don’t make false assumptions about why they’re suffering. False assumptions can get you in trouble. I heard about a carpet layer who was replacing some old carpet in a customer’s den. When he finished tacking down the new carpet he reached for cigarettes he kept in his shirt pocket, and they weren’t there. About that time he noticed a lump in the middle of the carpet about the size of a pack of cigarettes. He didn’t want to go to the trouble of taking up the entire carpet, so after looking around to see he was alone he took his hammer and beat the object flat to hide any evidence of his mistake. When he got to his truck he found his pack of cigarettes on the seat. As he lit up the homeowner ran out and said, “Hey, have you seen my television remote control? I’m sure I left it somewhere in the den.” It’s a dangerous thing to make false assumptions!
False assumptions lead to false conclusions, which lead to wrong actions. Job’s friends’ assumed only bad people suffer. So since Job was suffering, they concluded he was hiding some deep, dark sin. So instead of helping him, their words only added to his misery. Eliphaz said to Job: “Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless? You demanded security from your brothers for no reason; you stripped men of their clothing, leaving them naked...And you sent widows away empty-handed and broke the strength of the fatherless. That is why snares are all around you, why sudden peril terrifies you, why it is so dark you cannot see, and why a flood of water covers you.” (Job 22:5-6; 9-11) There is no evidence Job did any of those things. In fact, in Chapters 1 and 2 God says Job was a man who was blameless and upright, and a man who shunned evil. When you are trying to help a friend who is hurting, be careful you don’t make the same mistake.
2. Don’t make false claims about God’s will. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, there was a lot of publicity generated by a church sign in Tyler that proclaimed, “The Big Easy is the Modern Sodom and Gomorrah.” That preacher believes God’s will was to send Katrina as punishment on the people of New Orleans. That’s the same thing the Al-Qaeda terrorist web sites are proclaiming. You may recall that after 9/11 Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell said the terrorist attacks were God’s punishment on America. They later retracted their statements.