(Today's post by Jacob Moore)
The man who struggles struggles because of his folly. We naturally assume that if a human is in a crummy situation, he got himself in it and probably deserves it. Clearly Elihu believed that about Job; so much so that he even believed Job said things that Job in fact did not say. Elihu claimed that Job said, “…in spite of my right I am counted a liar; my wound is incurable, though I am without transgression (34:6).” Elihu believed that Job was prideful and even claimed to be without sin, though Job had previously acknowledged his own sin: “‘Why do you not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity? (7:21a)’” Elihu even believed that since Job was going through so much pain Job said, “‘It profits a man nothing that he should delight in God (34:9),’” though Job never said that.
In chapter 35 Elihu continues to make assumptions. Elihu gave Job three reasons why God was not answering his prayers: 1) “There they cry out, but he does not answer, because of the pride of evil men (35:12).” 2) “Surely God does not hear an empty cry, nor does the Almighty regard it (35:13).” 3) How much less when you say that you do not see Him, that the case is before Him, and you are waiting for him! (35:14)” Elihu believed that God was ignoring Job because of Job’s pride, wrong motives and lack of patient trust. Elihu didn’t know it, but God had already pronounced Job innocent: “And the Lord said to Satan, “have you considered my servant Job, what there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?’ (1:8)”
I hate to make the same mistake with Elihu as Elihu made with Job, but it appears to me that Elihu observed from a distance Job’s situation, and then came into Job’s life making judgement calls and telling Job how to live. Because Elihu was completely unaware of what was truly going on, he was of little to no help to Job; and many thousands of years later, Elihu comes off looking like fool.
The lesson I learned from Elihu is simple, but important: Be slow to judge and instruct, but be quick to listen and encourage. I’m so guilty of looking at a human who I believe needs my oh-so-insanely wise advice (that’s purely based off of what I can see without getting my hands dirty with his story), giving it to him, and walking off leaving the person in perhaps a worse condition than before while I’m thinking about how awesomely decent I am. It’s so easy to be an Elihu, and it often feels good to be an Elihu. But is it truly helpful?