"Is not your fear of God your confidence, And the integrity of your ways your hope?Job 4:6(NASB)
Job was a righteous man. He was a man of integrity. He was a pillar in the community who gave assistance to many people. He helped to strengthen the weak hands. He enabled the tottering to stand, and he supported those with feeble knees. But following Satan's severe attack on his home, his children, and his wealth, Job's position in society quickly deteriorated, and his body became covered with painful sores - from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Job's misfortunes caused him to open his mouth and lament loudly, in front of his three friends - Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite.
While he never cursed God for the terrible suffering he was facing, Job cursed the day of his birth. He longed to be set free from his afflictions through death and the grave. And after a whole week of sitting in aghast silence, due to the terrible misfortune that had rained down on him with such fury, Job complained that what he feared the most had befallen him. He bewailed that he had no peace of mind, no quiet repose, no rest in his soul, and had to endure nothing but pain and anguish.
It was at this point that Eliphaz, one of his three, silent friends, felt compelled to respond to Job's long, defensive, soliloquy of self-pity about his suffering. Eliphaz was a man who was proud of his knowledge and wisdom. However, despite his more than candid counsel, we realise that the advice Job received from each of his three friends was deeply flawed. Eliphaz pointed out boldly, that despite Job's apparently, impeccable character, the reason for his shocking downfall and the suffering he was going through, was his own lack of integrity - Eliphaz concluded that Job must have sin and was being punished for his sin.
While couching his accusation in flowery language, Eliphaz was basically telling Job that the reason for his downfall was due to unconfessed sin in his life. "Is not your fear of God your confidence," was his sharp accusation. And haven't you based your hope on your own integrity?" he asked. Aren't you trying to justify your sinful actions, by harping on about your personal integrity... was the accusation Eliphaz was making.
While the unconfessed sin of a believer will always break fellowship with the Lord and all sin has consequences, it should never be assumed that a man's sin is the cause for the trials he is facing. Although this is often taught in churches, and is, in general what sinners and saints believe - it is not scriptural. Trials are not necessarily linked with personal sin, which is why the Lord Jesus warned us not to judge others. Judgement is the singular responsibility of the Lord.
Eliphaz argued that Job would not make such a detailed defence of himself if he were innocent of sin. He was suggesting that it was a guilty conscience that was causing Job to plead his innocence so vehemently. Whether directly or indirectly, Eliphaz accused Job of being guilty of sin, and he believed that God was punishing his sinfulness. But accusing Job of being punished for sin was an indirect accusation against GOD's goodness!
He reasoned that Job would not complain in this way unless he was in some way guilty of some sin; that his guilty conscience was the root of his suffering. As it turned out, this was a false assumption. In reality, Eliphaz was blaspheming God's holy character with his accusation. He was saying that the Lord inflicts evil in the lives of man, but this is not true. He was saying God was sending evil on Job, but it was Satan, not God, who caused the terrible events in Job's life. Satan's wager was that Job would curse God if evil befell him, but Job blessed the Lord.
Job did not sin against God. In fact, he absolved the Lord of Satan's accusation! But Eliphaz had failed to understand that God is good and that only good and perfect things come from Him - not evil. Neither Job nor his three friends were aware that it was Satan, not God who inflicted the many misfortunes in his life. Job refused to blaspheme God's name and the other three individuals passed an incorrect judgement on him - and in so doing accused God of being the author of evil that befell their friend.
Although Job complained bitterly of his misfortunes he NEVER cursed God. "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord,” was his response. However, Eliphaz and his friend, believed that God only sent evil to the wicked - and only gave blessings to the good - a complete distortion of God's character.
God does NOT send evil on anyone. God may PERMIT evil to happen, but Satan instigates evil. Eliphaz and his friend lacked understanding and linking Job's misfortune to his sin was a slur against the Lord, Who sends the warming sunshine and the refreshing rain on both the wicked and the saved - while Satan, alone is the instigator of all that is evil that befalls all men.
How easy it is for us to judge others falsely, like Job's three friends falsely accused him, How quickly we can make assumptions about other believers rather than leaving God to be the judge of the man's inner heart and men's outer actions. May we abstain from any destructive criticism of our fellow men and leave God to work His perfect work in the lives of all - without OUR attempt to judge or correct. We have no right to point a finger of accusation at anyone and pass judgement on the circumstances of their lives. May the words of our mouth, the actions of our lives, the meditation of our heart, and the motives behind all we do and be acceptable to the Lord - our rock and my Redeemer.
Heavenly Father, I realise how easy it is to pass false judgements on others and confess that I am too ready to accuse others of wrong-doing, when someone's words and actions do not line up with my own moral code and of my limited understanding. Keep me from any critical thoughts of others and I pray that the words of my mouth, the actions of my life, the meditation of my heart, and the motives behind all I am is acceptable to You - this I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.