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prideful young man January 14 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading: Job 32, 33, 34

Pride

Pride is often associated with youth, but it can be present in anyone of any age. Hopefully, as we get older we become more sober-minded, humble, and better listeners. How can we avoid sinful pride?

Job was a righteous man who lived in the time of Abraham (more...). The defense of his righteousness, even though he had lost his health and his wealth, was misinterpreted as arrogance.

Job's friends were unsympathetic to his circumstances. They did not give him the benefit of the doubt. They knew why he was suffering; he was suffering because of some wickedness he had committed against God and man. They had spiritual knowledge, yes, but that knowledge puffed them up with pride. They thought they had all the answers.

When Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar ran out of arguments, however, a younger companion, Elihu spoke up. He was quite disgusted and angry that the arguments of Job's friends did not convince him. Elihu was the youngest member of the group. Out of respect he waited until Job's friends had expended their arguments. Then, in his veiled pride he said he had a better answer. What was Elihu's answer to Job's defense?

Elihu defended God. He said God is greater than man. We would expect a man to defend himself, but God does not have to answer to any man; He is transcendent. God is all-powerful so that he could take man's breath away if he chooses (Job 34:14-15); God is all-wise; God acts with perfect character; He always acts with justice and righteousness, unlike man [so far Elihu's argument is right but is no different from Job's friends].

Job wants God to answer him, but Elihu says there are different ways of communicating besides words. In fact, Elihu believes God has already answered him. By his own admission Job said he had experienced dreams (night mares), visions, and afflictions (Job 7:13, 14). Elihu suggests that even now the afflictions Job is experiencing may be for his benefit to bring him back to God. Elihu says, “God does all these things to a man-- twice, even three times-- to turn back his soul from the pit, that the light of life may shine on him ” (Job 33:29-30, NIV). Therefore, Job, your suffering means you have done something wrong, and God is causing you to suffer so that you will come back to him.

Elihu continues with a second answer for Job:

So listen to me, you men of understanding [Job and his friends]. Far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong. He repays a man for what he has done; he brings upon him what his conduct deserves. It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice, (Job 34:10-12, NIV).

At this point we might ask, is Elihu's argument any different from his friends? No, not really. His argument is that God punishes us for our good and our holiness to bring us to God, but Job is still left with the same false accusations of evil. This young man tries to understand God's higher purposes but does not consider that Job may be experiencing trials and testing for another reason besides his wickedness. He feels like he has to defend God, but really, God can take care of himself, as we shall see in the next lesson. Like Jesus was tested in the wilderness forty days and nights and then tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11), Job was tempted by Satan to curse God for all his trials. Like Jesus, the purpose for testing Job's faith served to approve him as God's servant. If Job passes the test, God will deem him worthy of more blessings.

Are you experiencing trials and temptations? Perhaps the purpose is for you to come to know God personally so that you might be helped. He offers you forgiveness, peace, spiritual life, and help to bear your circumstances or deliver you from them (more...). If you are a believer in Christ and are experiencing trials that are not a result of sin, perhaps God is allowing the tests to approve you for future blessings. Our trials can either lead us to God or drive us away from him. We will either get better or bitter. Which will they be for you?

Elihu then makes a final judgment of Job, adding insult to injury and agreeing with his friends: “Job speaks without knowledge; his words lack insight. Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmost for answering like a wicked man! To his sin he adds rebellion; scornfully he claps his hands among us and multiplies his words against God,” (Job 34:35-37, NIV).

It is important for all of us to be careful of adding insult to injury. Many young people (and some not so young) have not yet learned that. Whether young or old we need to be humble enough to admit we do not always understand God's plans and purposes for every situation, and we should not think that we do. Of course, it bothers us when Christians seem to be attacking the very God we love and that they once loved and served. However, in circumstances where people suffer severe pain or disillusionment over distressing situations, it is better to control our spirits and say nothing. We need to empathize and sympathize, not criticize. We need to stop pretending that we have the answer to fix all maladies. Though our intentions may be good and we want to help, sometimes all we can offer is comfort and prayer. Many times that is actually the best thing we can do. Let us not be judgmental of things we do not understand. This admonition is for all of us, even if we are not so young.

Lessons to live by:

  • Beware of pride.
  • If you are a believer in Christ and are experiencing trials that are not a result of sin, perhaps God is allowing the tests to approve you for future blessings.
  • Be kind; do not add insult to injury.
  • Let us not be judgmental of things we do not understand.
  • We do not have to defend God; he can defend himself.

Today's Bible Memory Verse:

Proverbs 17:27 “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.” (NIV)

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