The Gift of Condemnation

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Restoring a brother might take a gentle word of encouragement like a balm or a salve, or it might take a rebuke. But if you don't know all the facts, just concentrate on restoration.

The book of Job proves to us that people can remain faithful to the Lord even in the midst of rotten circumstances. The trouble is, Job is going through the suffering and his friends aren't. His friends are content to have a nice, neat theological formula. "Job, if you did this, that would happen."

We like things logical and fair. "If I do good and I'm righteous, then good will come and I'll be rewarded. If I do evil, then I'll suffer the consequences." But this doesn't always occur. That's not the real world.

Job's friends misrepresent God when they say, "If you do this, God will do that." And woe to the man who misrepresents God! That leads people astray. And they say, "God is righteous; Job, you're a sinner. God looks upon you as a wicked man." They get judgmental, but they don't know all the facts.

Even when you think you're right, there's no excuse for not speaking the truth in love. I know a lot of people who use scathing words for the purpose of being truthful and honest. They think God has given them the gift of condemnation (they call it "exhortation"), but they just walk around pointing fingers. Their targets don't feel the conviction to get close to God, they feel like someone just burned their foot with hot water.

Many of the things Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar tell Job are the truth, but they don't apply to him because he's innocent. And Job has to listen to these guys. His reaction? "But you forgers of lies, you are all worthless physicians. Oh, that you would be silent, and it would be your wisdom!" (Job 13:4-5) "I have heard many such things; miserable comforters are you all! (16:2). Job answers that if he were in their place he would speak differently. "But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the comfort of my lips would relieve your grief (16:5).

Galatians 6:1 says, "If a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted." Restoring a brother might take a gentle word of encouragement like a balm or a salve, or it might take a rebuke. But you do it in the spirit of meekness because you realize you could fall just like that other person. So instead of heaping judgmental attacks, especially if you don't know all the facts, just concentrate on restoration.

Job's comforters were not comforters. When he saw them he thought refreshment was coming, but they were a mirage. Be a real source of healing and restoration. Do it with meekness and gentleness.

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