Job’s Complaint Against Man and God (Job Sermon 6)
March 28, 2021 | Andy Davis
Joy in Suffering, Kindness of God, Suffering
Pastor Andy Davis preaches a sermon on Job 6-7. These chapters contain Job's response to his friends and to God and talk about the state of Job's heart in response to his long-term suffering.
- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -
One of the great questions that we, as Christians, have to ask as we come to the book of Job week after week is just God's intentionality in giving us this book with all of its details. And as I meditated on that, I was brought in my mind to the statement Jesus made to his disciples the night before he was crucified. When he said, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." It shows the compassion of God through Christ that he not leave us alone in our strife, that he not leave us alone in our afflictions, but he has a heart of compassion for us. And in that text, Jesus was talking first and foremost of his own post-resurrection appearance that he would give them evidence of his triumph over the grave. But in a larger sense, in that chapter, he is talking about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the counselor, the comforter who would come and would guide his people into all truth.
And that counselor, the comforter, would illuminate the word of God, the scripture. That's his primary means of counsel, his primary means of giving us comfort. And at that time, some of the great books of the Bible hadn't even been written yet, the New Testament, hadn't even been written yet. The Old Testament had been given to the Jewish people, including this book of Job. And he, the Holy Spirit, inspired that in its time, but he understood every generation of redemptive history. And I believe that he inspired this book of Job to enable God's people in every generation to suffer well. To go through affliction well for his glory and for their own benefit, maximally to derive the benefits of the afflictions that God gave. So, he gave us this book of Job and it's mysterious because it's a perfect record of a very imperfect conversation.
It's a perfect record of an imperfect man, a righteous man, a godly man struggling as no man had ever struggled before or since in that particular way. And his words are recorded for us. And so I believe that the Holy Spirit wants us to both, in some cases, imitate Job, and in some cases learn by contrast to not be like Job. And we're going to walk through that even this morning as we look at Job six and seven. One of the things we learn about suffering is that suffering goes on far longer than we want it to. It's possible to suffer well for a short time, a kind of a sprint of suffering. We can do that. But chronic suffering, long term grinding suffering is beyond the natural endurance of any human being. Eventually our resolve begins to waver and crumble as the trial bears on and bears down on us.
At the first moment of the crisis, we can respond with great spiritual energy, great determination, great valor. Ordinary men physically in an emergency have been given an incredible amount of physical strength to lift a car up off a loved one, a child or a wife. It's incredible what they can do at that moment. Or a wounded soldier in a battlefield can be grievously wounded and still function almost as though he has no wound. He's able to rescue others, et cetera. But then once that moment has passed and he receives the surgeries that he needs to survive, and then he has to go through the rehab, even a day of pain can be something he can barely face. How can you see that? How can you have that incredible valor and courage on the battlefield and then have a hard time going through a day of rehab months later? The same is true of shocking emotional loss. The death of a child, let's say, comes with a numbing shock to it. The hours and days that immediately follow the tragedy pass by like a blur. Friends come and the grieving parents say all the right things, but they don't really feel them. They're really numb. They go to bed with their heads spinning. It seems like they're getting through the funeral day and the immediate bereavement with admirable faith and trust in the Lord. But then the days become months. And the couple still has to walk by the child's bedroom and see framed photos on the wall and have a bookmark that they made on Mother's Day tumble out of the Bible. And the sight of that little piece of paper feels like a javelin to the heart and fresh waves of pain come. And this time, perhaps the reactions are not so pious, not so polished, not so admirable. So it was with Job.
As we move deeper into this book, we're going to see his responses to his friend's words. This morning we're going to begin with his response to Eliphaz’s first speech, which we looked at last week. As you remember, Eliphaz came to Job somewhat gently with, in some senses, right doctrine, but applied it wrongly. His basic thesis, as you remember, was plain. Job 4:8, “Those who plow evil and those who sow trouble, reap it.” You reap what you sow. Trouble comes because of sin. God is sovereign, he actively rules over the earth, and nothing happens for no reason. You reap what you sow. Therefore, the shortest route back to prosperity is to acknowledge your sins to God and make your appeal directly to him, Job 5:8, he said, "But if it were I, I would appeal to God. I would lay my cause before him."
That was Eliphaz’s counsel, based on his sound, long-standing observation of the way things work in this world. But Eliphaz’s doctrine of sowing and reaping, however true in general, is false in its application to Job. The fact is that the law of sowing and reaping only explains some of the outcomes that we observe in human life. Actually, as is clearly the case with Job, we know it's the case with Job, some great evils can come upon those who have no great sin in their lives. And as we'll discuss, God willing, in future chapters in Job, some great prosperity can come on those who are desperately wicked and no judgment seems to come in this life. So that's Eliphaz, now it's time for Job to respond. Now, as we're going to track over the, God willing, the number of weeks Job's dialogue with his friends, eventually Job's statements are going to display Job's heart at its worst.
We've already seen, to some degree, Job at his best right away. And we'll see him that way again, but different at the end of the book. But in the meantime, we have a journey to travel and I think the Holy Spirit in his wisdom wanted to show us that journey so that we would hear the words that he said at that time. And so it's best for us to walk through them together. These complaints of Job are going to intensify as the chapters unfold. And it starts today with Job six and seven. Now I break these two chapters of Job's words into two main headings. They don't fit perfectly either chapter, but they'll give us a general sense. Each of those will have three portions in chapter six, Job basically complains against his friends. And in chapter seven, Job complains against his God. So a summary, what Job wants from his friends is loyal kindness and compassion. And what Job wants from God is either forgiveness or for God to leave him alone or kill him before he sins like he feels like he's about to do. So that's what we're going to see.
I. Job Complains Against His Friends
The Magnitude of My Suffering
Let's begin chapter six: Job's complaints against his friends. But he begins in 6:1-7 by rehearsing the magnitude of his suffering, the magnitude of my suffering. Look at verses 6:1-7, “Then Job replied: “If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas—no wonder my words have been impetuous. The arrows of the Almighty are in me, my spirit drinks in their poison; God's terrors are marshaled against me. Does a wild donkey bray when it has grass, or an ox bellow when it has fodder? Is tasteless food eaten without salt, or is there flavor in the white of an egg? I refuse to touch it; such food makes me ill." So Job says his vexation, his anguish is heavy. It presses on him like a weight, like a massive boulder on his chest.
He uses overwhelming exaggeration to describe his anguish. It will outweigh, he says, all the grains of sand on every seashore on earth. It's not surprising he says, therefore, that his words are so rash, so impetuous. It's not surprising that he’s saying things that should not be said. It's like the overwhelming weight of sorrow is pressing on his soul. And these deep, hidden perspectives are bubbling to the surface and he can't help himself. The things he's saying and the things he's going to say ordinarily he would squelch them or cover them and not say them, and no one would know he was even beginning to think them. But they're coming out now. Trials come and they seem to draw things out from deep within our souls that we didn't even know were there, sinful thoughts, sinful attitudes. But suffering people, when they're going through it, can easily give themselves permission to say whatever comes to mind, whatever they want.
"Trials come and they seem to draw things out from deep within our souls that we didn't even know were there, sinful thoughts, sinful attitudes."
He wants his friends to know that it's easy for people who are not going through that kind of suffering to judge people who are. He's going to say that more clearly in a later section. He says that the arrows of the Almighty have penetrated him, poisonous arrows. He's lying wounded on the battlefield of life with arrows sticking out of his body, and those arrows were shot by God. “It's God's terrors which are arrayed against me, like a mighty besieging army; as I look out over the parapet of my soul, I see the vast power of God arrayed against me!” Job speaks of a beast, the wild donkey that runs free, the massive ox that stands still. When they have what they need, when their bellies are full, they're happy, they keep quiet. But, he's saying, in my case, I can't even eat the white of an egg, even just bland food makes me want to vomit. This is the magnitude of my sorrows, O my friends.
I Wish I Could Die Before I Sin
Second section. I wish I could die before I sin. Look at 6:8-13, “O that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for, that God would be willing to crush me, to let loose his hand and cut me off! Then I would still have this consolation—my joy in unrelenting pain—that I had not denied the words of the Holy One. “What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient? Do I have the strength of stone? Is my flesh bronze? Do I have any power to help myself, now that success has been driven from me?”
So he's saying my deepest desire right now is just to die. I want to get out of this world before I blaspheme God. God has struck me to the ground with his poisonous arrows, savage blows. Why doesn't he just finish me off? All I have left in this world to cling to is that I have not, up to this point, blasphemed the Holy One, blasphemed his words. My wife even came to me and said, "Curse God and die." But even at that moment, I refused to charge God with any wrongdoing. I actually worship God. I actually praised him. And when he struck me a second time with a foul disease, even then I did not accuse God of wrongdoing. But as this trial wears me down as day passes into day, as month rolls into month, I feel a growing internal rage. I feel a growing resentment within me.
I do not want to even begin to put it into words for then I would sin and I haven't done that yet, but it's coming. I can feel it. So I just, all I want is for God to just finish me off. I can't go on like this for much longer. I'm just a frail man. I'm just flesh and blood. I'm not made of stone. I'm not made of bronze. I'm going to begin to crumble before your eyes if this keeps going on, and the dark thoughts that I feel growing inside my heart will soon bubble to the surface. It would be better for me to die than to sin. The trial is wearing this man down. He's losing strength of soul. Now that's the word to us. Your trials, whenever God chooses to give them to you, will go on longer than you want them to go on. And Job's an example of what happens when that goes on.
You, my friends, are treacherous when you should be loyal and sympathetic
Now, he turns his bitter guns on his treacherous friends. This is 6:14-30, says effectively, you, my friends, are treacherous when you should be loyal and sympathetic. Verses 14-17, "A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty. But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams, as the streams that overflow when darkened by thawing ice and swollen with melting snow, but that cease to flow in the dry season and in the heat vanish from their channels." So, Job, with his friends, he uses terms of friendship, calls them friends, he actually speaks of them as brothers. That's what makes their demeanor toward him, their words toward him so painful. When they should be loyal, when they should be sympathetic, they're treacherous instead.
And the image that he uses here is one of streams in the desert called wadis in the desert. In the springtime, when the mountain ice and snow melts, they gush full. The streams are bursting with cool, clear water, but then the hot season comes. When you really need water, you could imagine a wanderer in the desert knows there's a wadi up just over the next dune. And he gets over there and there's this dry river bed, and there's no water in it at all. Caravans that run from cities like Tema and Sheba and Arabia rely on these streams in the desert. And if they come on them in a time of extreme need and they find nothing but dust and sand, they might even die. So it is, he's saying, with you, my treacherous friends, that's what you're like for me. Like I'm a man dying of thirst, and I come to what I thought was a wadi, or I come to an oasis, and there's no water there. That's what you are.
They have fallen short of loyal kindness. The Hebrew word is hesed. It's a powerful one, important word. And this is where rubber meets the road with friendship. Friend in need, that's what we're talking about. That's what he is. And if friendship does not prove itself at a time like that, then what is it for? So he makes an open appeal for their sympathy. Look at verses 24-30. He says, "Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong. How painful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove? Do you mean to correct what I say, and treat the words of a despairing man as wind? You would even cast lots for the fatherless and barter away your friend. But now be so kind as to look at me. Would I lie to your face? Relent, do not be unjust; reconsider, for my integrity is at stake. Is there any wickedness on my lips? Can my mouth not discern malice?" So he asks for their counsel. If you think I have sinned, then show me my sin.
And he says, "How painful are honest words!" I can say there are some of you folks that need to hear that more than others. Some people just blunder in and say what's on your heart. I know it's going to be hard to hear, but you need to hear this, and off it goes. Others are a little more circumspect, a little more careful. But he says, "How painful are honest words!” They're cutting me like a knife. But actually you can't prove any of your accusations because they're not true. There's no evidence at all for my sins, my great sins. So Job begins to get aggressive with them at this point. He's angry at them and he says that they would cast lots over the blameless and barter away a friend. We picture other stories in the Bible like what Joseph's brothers did when they sold him as a slave to the Midianites, carried him into Egypt, or, even worse what Judas did, trading in Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, this betrayal.
That's what he feels. And then he concludes by saying, look at my face. Say it to my face. Look at me. What have I done wrong? Can you say these things to my face? Like they've turned away from him. He begs them to relent, to stop their accusations of him because his integrity is hanging on this. And he makes, not for the last time, the plain assertion that he's innocent of their suppositions. He's innocent of great sin. Chapter six.
II. Job Complains Against His God
My Days Are Both Too Long and Too Short
Now let's look at chapter seven. Here, Job complains toward God, although not right away, it rises and grows in this chapter. First, he talks about life on earth. Effectively in 7:1-6, he says, "My days are both too long and too short." “My days are both too long and too short.”
Look at 7:1-6, "Does not man have hard service on earth? Are not as days like those of a hired man? Like a slave longing for the evening shadows, or a hired man waiting eagerly for his wages, so I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me. When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’ The night drags on, and I toss until dawn. My body is clothed with worms and scabs, my skin is broken and festering. “My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle and they come to an end without hope." So, Job here laments the plight of all human beings, what life is like for all of us.
Man, he says, has to endure hard service on the earth, like a slave who works all day long yearning for the sun to go down and for the shadow, the coolness of the night. Or like a hired man who, every moment of the day, all he's thinking about are the few coins he's going to get at the end of the day, he has no joy in his labor. But with those few coins that he gets at the end of the day, he's going to be able to buy some food and some provisions for himself and his family. And he's going to go home, he's going to bring those provisions to them, they're going to eat and go to bed. That's their day. And the next day he's going to do it all over again. That's what life is like for human beings. And that's what life feels like to Job now. He just wants it to be over. Do you see that? I mean, he just wants the day to end. When he lies down, though, all he can think about is when the night will end because he has insomnia and nightmares. So all day long, he's waiting for night when he can have some rest, but all night long, he's not sleeping because of the terrors of his heart and he's waiting for day.
But then the day is no better because all day long, his skin is festering with worms and agony, so it's strange. The days seem very long, but then he says his life is fleeting, flying away, he says swifter than a weaver's shuttle. Think about how a loom was set up with strings up and down, and then the weaver throws that shuttle across from right to left. And it's just that quick, it's gone. This image is used a number of times in the Bible, but it's talking about the transitory nature of life. Life is a mist. It's a vapor that appears for a little while, and then it vanishes. It's strange though, in the midst of this suffering, time is playing tricks on him. Which is it Job? Are the days long or are they short?
I remember hearing this once, and it struck me as true, depending on what you're going through. The days are long and the years are short. I think the older you get, the more you know that that's true. What does that mean the days are long? It means there are certain days that you think will never end. They just will never end, and then suddenly it was seven years ago that day. "Soon," he says, "the tapestry of my life will be finished and God will cut me off the loom and fold me up and begin working on another tapestry, and I'll be done. That's what my time is like, and I can make no sense of it at all."
Remember, O God… I Won’t be Here Much Longer
Part two chapter seven. “Remember, O God, I'm not going to be here much longer." This is verses 7-10, "Remember…that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again. The eye that now sees me will see me no longer; you will look for me; but I will be no more. As a cloud vanishes and is gone, so he who goes down to the grave does not return. He will never come to his house again; his place will know him no more." So Job now definitely turns his attention to God and begins talking to God. And he's calling on God to remember how frail and fragile he is. Psalm 103:14 says, "For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”
Effectively he's saying to God, "How much more of this do you think I can take? It is evident to me that I will never see any pleasure again, ever. I'm done with pleasure. All the things that I ever enjoyed have been ripped away from me and I'll never enjoy them again. So if there's nothing left for me on earth, but pain, realize, O Lord, I'm effectively as good as gone already.” Ironically, at the end of the book, he's going to have all of these things restored to him, and it seems that he takes pleasure in it. It's good to know, isn't it, that when you're going through a time like this, you think you will never be happy again, can never be happy again. That's what Job felt. So Job says to God, remember that I'm going to soon be gone and you're going to look for me and you're not going to find me. And the place where I live won't even remember me. My life is a mist. It's a vapor that appears for a little while and then it'll be gone. And once I die, I'm going to be gone forever. And you will never see me again.
You, My God, Are Terrifying Me When You Should Forgive
Third part 7:11-21. "You, my God, are terrifying me when you should forgive.” So Job here turns directly to God and brings his complaint right to God. He's going to use bitter sarcasm. And he's going to begin to question the attributes of God, his goodness, his mercy, and justice. This questioning of God will increase as the book goes on. And it is the very thing that he's going to repent from at the end of the book, but the seeds of it are right here.
Look at verses 11-16, "Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. Am I the sea, or the monster of the deep, that you put me under guard? When I think my bed will comfort me and my couch will ease my complaint, even then you frighten me with dreams and terrify me with visions, so that I prefer strangling and death, rather than this body of mine. I despise my life; I would not live forever. Let me alone; my days have no meaning." So Job says, "I cannot keep silent. I've got to say what's coming out of me." He must voice his deep distress. He's got to talk about it, he says. Interesting, there's a Psalm that says, "Set a guard over the door of my mouth." He doesn't want any guard over the door of his mouth. He wants to say what's on his mind. And he wonders why God feels it necessary to deal so powerfully and vigorously with him.
He says, am I a monster of the deep, like one of these primordial beasts that all the ancient stories said God conquered to create the universe? This kind of thing, like a sea serpent. Am I a cosmic enemy of God that I have to be captured and put in chains with a guard over me night and day? Am I that dangerous? Am I that much of a threat to your mighty throne, oh God? Now how could that be? In the midst of my disease? I go lie down on a bed. And even when I do that, all that happens is more agony. It's like you will not give me a moment of peace, not even at night, now that night terrors come. All those nightmares, the night terrors, they leave me in a cold sweat. I wonder what new things you're going to do to me. It's as though these nightmares are the evening's guard details set over me to make sure that I don't have a moment's peace. Other times I try to breathe and I'm strangled by my agony as I'm panting trying to catch my breath, but I actually wish I would not catch my breath. I'd rather just strangle and die. I hate my life. There's nothing good for me in life. And I wish you would just leave me alone.
Look at verses 17-21, "What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment? Will you never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant? If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you? Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins? For I will soon lie down in the dust; you will search for me, but I will be no more." So Job finishes lament by wondering what God gets out of staring at human beings so intently. Why do you care so much about us, God? You're exalted high above the heavens. The heavens, even the highest heavens, can't contain you. All the nations are before you like grass hoppers and like dust on the scales and like a drop of water from the bucket.
So why do you zero in on me? That's what whole nations are like. Why do you care about an individual little peon, a flickering flame with nothing left to offer? Why do you stare at us? Why do you examine us? Why do you test us? Why do you orchestrate trials specifically tailored for our lives? I feel naked before your gaze, O God. Your staring at me makes me terrified. Would you please, for a moment, turn your gaze away? Look somewhere else. At this point, Job seems to become increasingly disrespectful of God in some sense. He says, “If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men?”
It's like he's charging the ineffable, the infinitely glorious, highly exalted God with being weird to care so much about a tiny black ant running around in some little hill somewhere. The bottom line is simple. If you are so mighty and so powerful, and if I'm so little and so insignificant, then why should my sins, whatever they are, trouble you so much? Why don't you just forgive me? Soon I'm going to die anyway. Why not just give me a moment's peace in your merciful forgiveness before I sink back into the dust from which I came? It's Job chapter seven.
III. Timeless Lessons for Us
All right. So what are some lessons for us? Timeless lessons for us as we look at Job through these two chapters. I'm going to take the last lesson first.
The Last Lesson is First: We DO Matter to God!
The last lesson is we infinitely matter to God. It's actually immeasurable how much we matter to God. The fact is God is a watcher of men. Intently. David celebrates it in Psalm eight. He says, "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you're mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" He's marveling over that God can do both. The fact is God is actually so exalted that he can do both. He can spin all the planets and make certain all the stars are in place and care about little you. It's actually a reduction of God to think that God can't do both. God is so busy spinning the planets he has no time for me. That's just not true. God is infinitely majestic and infinitely attentive to details, including you.
"The fact is God is actually so exalted that he can do both. He can spin all the planets and make certain all the stars are in place and care about little you. It's actually a reduction of God to think that God can't do both. "
He does. Psalm 139 celebrates this actually. Psalm 139:1-6 says, "O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain." Later in that Psalm, Psalm 139, he says, "How marvelous are your thoughts concerning me, how vast the sum of them. Were I to number them, they would outnumber the grains of sand in the seashore." So different image, but there it's incredible that God has that many thoughts about me. It's actually very comforting when you know that God means you nothing but good, and he has completely figured out your life.
Our Sins Are Eternally Consequential
Secondly, our sins are eternally consequential. They cannot be minimized. They should not be minimized. It is actually not a small thing that we, individual human beings, created in the image of God, created to love God and to serve him with all of our hearts, with all of our souls, with all of our minds and strength, rebel against him, violates those laws. It is not a small thing. It's infinitely consequential.
Our Sins Are Atoned for by God’s Faithful Love in Christ
Thirdly, our sins are atoned for by God's faithful love in Jesus Christ. That's the good news. I will not stop looking at the book of Job through the lens of the cross in the empty tomb. Every week we're going to do it. I'm not going to be disrespectful to Job. I'm just going to say in different ways, I think we can do better.
I think we're called on, after the resurrection of Christ to do better. We'll talk more about that in later sermons, but our sins have been atoned for out of the unfailing covenant love of God, that God set his love on us in Christ Jesus. “In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons and daughters. And it was out of love that he sent has only begotten a son into the world. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." And Jesus said it of himself, "Greater love has no one than this, that he laid down his life for his friends." So the real question I'm asking you, my dear friend listening to me now, is have you known the forgiveness of God through faith in Jesus Christ?
Have you found that forgiveness for yourself? Your sins are eternally consequential. The wrath of God against sin is real, but Jesus came and paid that penalty of wrath on the cross for sinners like you and me. And all we have to do is trust in him, and our sins will be forgiven.
Jesus is Therefore the Perfect Friend
Fourth, Jesus is therefore the perfect friend. Job's friends did fail him. They did not display that covenant love, that hesed. But Jesus is more than just a friend that sticks closer than a brother. His loyalty to us will never end. He shed his blood for us to take away our sins and by his Spirit he's able to say, "Surely I will be with you always, even to the end of the age." Hebrews 13:5 says, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So God, through his son, and the Son, through the Spirit, walks with us through every trial.
As Isaiah 43 says beautifully, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."
God Knows How Much We Can Take
Fifth, God knows how much we can take. Remember when Job is saying, "I'm not stone. I'm not bronze." He's saying to God, "God, you have miscalculated here." It's like God's a civil engineer who designed a bridge and then ran an armored division over it. And it's like one of those little country bridges, you know, and you can hear the structural members creaking and cracking and about to go. That's what Job's saying to God. It's too much. But God actually knows better than we do how much we can handle.
We would always go lightly on ourselves, don't you think? If you got to sit into the pain of redemptive suffering and strap yourself in and wire yourself up, and then you controlled the level from zero to a hundred, what would you choose? Pastor, I'd be about 0.1, maybe one if I were really feeling virtuous and when God's dialing it up to 50 and 60, he knows what you can take. And he knows that the trial will not do you harm ultimately. God is faithful, “He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, but with the temptation will make the way of escape.” 1 Corinthians 10:13.
Sound Theology Must Be Supplemented with Humility and Love
Sixth, sound theology must be supplemented with humility and love. This is Job's response to his friends. We can do better than his friends. I think we should cherish sound theology at this church. We should cherish it, but be careful how you use it.
Think about those words, “How painful are honest words!” That's why it says in Ephesians 4:15, "Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head." We have to combine truth, biblical truth, with tenderness, compassion, humility, with the fruit of the spirit. Put those together.
Friends Should Do Better Than These Men
So seventh, friends should do better than these men. When you go to counsel, speak humbly about your own sinfulness. Realize you're no better. If the person you're counseling confesses great sin to you and thinks this is why they're going through this great trial, don't minimize that. Don't think that's unbiblical or impossible. Don't say that. But just realize you're just as sinful as they are. Point them to the cross. Point them to the empty tomb and to the faithfulness of God. If they don't, if they're suffering similar to Job, although not as righteous as Job, but they're not aware of any great sin, but they're going through this great trial, it's a chronic illness, or some other great trial, then don't do what Job's friends did. Believe them, the judgment of charity and be a good friend, walk through it with them.
Sufferers Should Not Give Themselves Permission to Blaspheme God
And then eighth, sufferers should not give themselves permission to blaspheme God. Job 6:2-3, "If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas—no wonder my words have been impetuous." Later, he says, I will not guard my mouth. I'm going to say what's on my heart. Well, here's the thing, I've seen as a pastor again and again people who get angry at God and vent on him for a while and feel that they're justified in doing so. Let me say, first of all, God never does anything wrong ever.
Second of all, it is not actually therapeutic for you to vent. What you should do is draw near to the throne of grace that you may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. It's right for you, in the book of James, where you're going through suffering of many kinds to ask for wisdom. I don't know why this is happening. Show me what it is you're seeking to achieve in my life and in my family. What are you doing? That's perfectly valid. But don't blaspheme. Don't question the justice of God. Don't come against him. I feel like this is the final lesson of the book of Job is to trust God, no matter what he chooses to do with your earthly life.
Close with me in prayer. Lord, thank you for these chapters. They're not easy to hear, but we thank you for how you and your wisdom have given us these words so that we can take them seriously, understand what was going on in this man's heart, in his life. And to realize that you don't mean us harm, O Lord, but you're going to bring us through sufferings and trials and afflictions that we would not choose for ourselves. Prepare us, O Lord, in advance, to suffer well. We thank you for the wisdom that you showed in John chapters 13-16 of telling your disciples ahead of time the sufferings they were going to go through so that when they went through them that they would continue to believe in Jesus. Lord, give us that preparation now through these sermons so that when the time comes, we will suffer well for your glory. In Jesus’s name, Amen.