Summary: The advice that comforts may be right advice with proper theology in some situations but bad advice for each person’s situation since it does not meet the need of the present situation.

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Job 4:1-9, 17-21 et al

Proposition: The advice that comforts may be right advice with proper theology in some situations but bad advice for each person’s situation since it does not meet the need of the present situation.

Objective: My objective is to encourage to know how and when a person is hurting and needs comfort and to give the right advice.


Illus: In life, right often appears to be wrong and wrong right. Such was the strange case recently when Judge Leon R. Yankwich, a federal judge in Los Angeles, was presented a civil case that made him want to scream. Two men, Luther Wright and Hermann Rongg, were assigned to appear before his court, each claiming ownership of a patent. Attempting to moderate the dispute, Judge Yankwich declared, “One of you must be wrong.” “That’s right,” replied Rongg, “I’m Rongg and I’m right.” Then Wright interrupted. “He’s wrong, your honor. I’m right and Rongg is wrong.” So who is wrong? And who is right? Largely upon the strength of a letter that Wright wrote Rongg, Judge Yankwich terminated the Wright-Rongg dispute by ruling, “Paradoxical though it may appear in this case, Wright is wrong and Rongg is right, and I so enter judgment.” This is the confusion that Job felt as he pled his case before God. He felt that he was suffering in this life as if right were wrong and wrong were right. He felt the same way about the advice he received. What was right advice in some situations was wrong advice in Job’s situation. He felt he had been suffering and he receives advice that says he is not right, but he knew in his heart that he was. Right advice and wrong advice make him confused. It seemed nobody understood him and this bothered him deeply. His friends thought that injustice was prevailing. It was good advice for some, but wrong for him and at the wrong time. He realized that his friends came to sermonize rather than sympathize with him in his condition.

In another time, to another person, Job’s friends’ advice would have been correct. God can and does discipline those who sin. David notes that "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;" [Psalm 66:18] The author of Hebrews encourages us to "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?" [Hebrews 12:7] In all these cases, Job’s friends’ advice of "You are in trouble because you have sinned" would have been appropriate as good advice. Today, we can act like Job’s friends if we assume too much about those we talk to. Quoting Romans 8:28 at someone who’s just gone through a tragedy can be the wrong thing to say. In such circumstances, it can be far better to empathize with them in the loss, and save such things until later. In other cases, giving the first piece of advice that springs to mind without praying over the situation and ensure that it’s relevant can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

Job is an outstanding person who loves God. Sometimes we learn that God is far more interested in our holiness, even more than our happiness. His friends believe they are “God’s answer men.” They must have an answer for every situation. God really knows the answers. Note Job 42:7: “You didn’t say the right things about me.” He says a lot of what is right, but God says it is wrong. Many want to sermonize rather than sympathize. We need to rightly represent God. He had the right answers, but he asks the wrong questions.

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