Tearing Down is not Love

I'll probably say this until I die. With friends like Job's, who needs enemies? Chapter 15 is Eliphaz's response to Job's words in chapters 13 and 14. He's still accusing Job and calling him names like revolting, corrupt, unjust, liar and wicked. This is not based on any facts mind you. He's simply looking at Job's circumstances and making assumptions. Wrong ones, by the way. The only redeeming point I could find was his call for reverence to God. On that we can agree. But agreement ends there.

Job begins replying in Chapter 16. Job begins by saying that his "friends" are "miserable comforters" (verse 1). About time he realized that! He goes on to say how easy it would be to talk trash about them too if the roles were switched. But then comes verse five.

"Instead I would encourage you with my mouth, and the consolation from my lips would bring relief" ~ Job 16:5

A good friend does not tear down. They build up. They encourage. They support. I don't think Job is elevating himself above his so-called friends. I think he's simply pointing out an epic failure in their roles as his friends. He's letting them know that they aren't being loving. Can you imagine the hurt their words are inflicting on Job? And this on top of everything else he's endured?

So what does the rest of Scripture have to say about it? I think we can go straight to the "love" chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. Though I don't normally use this translation since it's a paraphrase, I think the Message version works well here to illustrate Job's point.

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut,

Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle,

Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (MSG)

Where did Eliphaz and crew fail? I feel like they were strutting a little bit, throwing around their "wisdom". I'd even go with swelled heads, based on Eliphaz's statement "Listen to me and I will inform you" (Job 15:17). What about flying off the handle? Every time Job defended himself and rightfully and truthfully declared himself innocent of sin, they ran to offer a scathing rebuttal. They were in a way keeping track of Job's sins. Though he had none, they were busy counting up what they thought he must have done to bring on such great suffering.

Clearly they weren't being loving friends. Or loving people. How about us? How are we holding up to the criteria of the love chapter in these difficult times? Are we building up or tearing down? Are looking for the best in others or looking for points to argue? Are we being patient or flying off the handle? Are we conducting ourselves with love toward those around us, be it in person, over the phone or in these Internet streets? I need some work in this area to be sure. But I am making the effort because it's what is required of me as a Christ follower. How are you doing with it?

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