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February 12, 2011 – Job 11

Click here to read Job 11 on BibleGateway.com

Oh, how the temptation to share our wisdom is hard to resist. We give people advice whether they ask for it or not, tell the pastor what so-and-so is up to to make sure he (or she) knows about their flock, and tell others where they screwed up just so they can be better people. Sometimes people even put up snazzy looking websites to help people get the benefit of their “wisdom.”


Zophar, our Friend of Job Special of the Day, is like a mirror for some of us. He has listened to Job and his other friends go through Round 1, and now he feels he must speak. He tells Job (v.3) that he can’t put up with his “idle talk” any longer (surprising, since Job has only spoken a few times). Depending on your version, it may say “boasting” instead of idle talk, or even “lies” if you have a particularly aggressive translation.

The word under consideration is translated various ways in other parts of the Bible, but in general it means exaggeration or boasting, usually untruthfully. Zophar is saying that since Job claims to be pure (which isn’t quite what Job said; he said he didn’t deserve the extent of his suffering) and Zophar knows that isn’t true, that he (Zophar) is compelled to correct him.


You might think this doesn’t have a whole to do with us, but we do the same kind of thing every day. Let’s say you are in a church setting – like a good old fashioned potluck – and you hear Brother Jebediah reflecting on how he is an honest man. Now, you know (because you heard a co-worker’s brother tell you) that Jebediah has taken Post-It notes from his office every day for the last decade. What do you do? Do you feel the need to confront him on the spot, or at least go to your Brother and confront him in his folly? Seems pretty much the same as Zophar, don’t you think?

Sometimes this even gets stretched into confronting someone because we have the “gift of discernment,” and we just need to go talk to our brother or sister about their lying or stealing or level of tithing. And lest we think our position give us the responsibility to correct everyone, in Jeremiah this same word is translated as “oracle priests,” a gut-check reminder that is often those in spiritual authority that might be guilty of picking motes with woodbeam glasses on.


In this case, Zophar was way off, and this should serve as a reminder for us. True, if we are in leadership, sometimes we have to go to a Brother or Sister if there is something that needs correction, but we should be very careful. Zophar didn’t know what the real story was, and yet he spoke authoritatively on God’s behalf. Before we go and correct a fellow believer, we should make doubly sure that it is God that is motivating us and not our own sense of self-righteousness.

Sometimes having discernment means knowing when to keep our wisdom to ourselves.

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