A Word from the Unwise
Read Job 4--5
Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied: "If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? But who can keep from speaking?" Job 4:1-2
Job's three friends were silent for seven days (2:13), and Job later wished they had stayed that way (13:5). Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered Job. But what did he answer? The pain in Job's heart? No, he answered the words from Job's lips, and this was a mistake. A wise counselor and comforter must listen with the heart and respond to feelings as well as to words. We do not heal a broken heart with logic; we heal a broken heart with love. Yes, we must speak the truth, but we must be sure to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).
Eliphaz's approach seemed to start out positive enough, even gentle, but it was only honey to prepare Job for the bitterness that would follow. "Don't get upset, Job!" is what he was saying. "In the past your words have been a help to many people, and we want our words to be a help to you" (Job 4:4-6, author's paraphrase).
We must never underestimate the power of words to encourage people in the battles of life. James Moffatt translates Job 4:4, "Your words have kept men on their feet." The right words spoken at the right time and with the right motive can make a tremendous difference in the lives of others. Our words can nourish those who are weak and encourage those who are defeated. But our words can also hurt those who are broken and only add to their burdens, so we must be careful what we say and how we say it.
Applying God's Truth:
1. What do you suppose Job's friends were thinking during their seven days of silence?
2. Can you think of a recent time when you responded to someone's words rather than that person's feelings? How might you have improved your response?
3. When have you felt that you had the right words, at the right time, and with the right motive--and helped or comforted someone a great deal?
Devotions for Patience and Wholeness ©2005 by Dr. Warren Wiersbe. Used by permission of David C Cook. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.