Avoid the Prattle of Religious Small Talk
Read Job 4:20
Between morning and evening they are beaten to pieces; they perish forever without anyone regarding it.
• How can you avoid religious small talk?
• Why is it important to avoid slipping into religious small talk when trying to comfort others?
• Our words should encourage and build each other up in the faith. Do you agree? (Please explain).
As Eliphaz described his vision, it is easy to see why it was frightening to him. He pointed out that no one is holy and able to stand before God on his or her own, a sentiment also found in Romans 3:23. Eliphaz's rendition, though, includes dramatic phrases such as "crushed like the moth" (Job 4:19 ESV) and "they perish forever without anyone regarding it" (Job 4:20 ESV).
A burning question is whether Eliphaz's words were helpful to Job in his suffering. If he intended his words to have an evangelistic impact, he was wasting his breath. Job already had a relationship with God.
Was Eliphaz's intention to explain Job's suffering as a punishment from God for his sins? As we've discussed earlier, such simple explanations fail to capture the full reality and put God in a box. Moreover, they could have driven Job to feel guilty about his losses.
Eliphaz's words didn't express empathy or sorrow for Job either. Nor did they build Job up by pointing him to God and a future hope.
So what useful purpose did they serve? Unfortunately, they appear to be just religious prattle--foolish or simple-minded talk. For those who are hurting, religious prattle distracts and discourages. Just as junk food provides a quick fix to hunger that ultimately fails to nourish the body, oversimplified religious chatter without a clear purpose fails to restore hope to the brokenhearted. It may stand in the way of the sufferer seeking comfort directly from God.
Avoiding religious small talk is wise advice for both those who are hurting and those who want to provide comfort. Instead, we should seek to encourage and build each other up through reminders of God's promises and future hope.
Lord, help me to choose my words carefully when I'm comforting others. May my words encourage, give hope, and bring glory to You always. Amen.