Lessons from a Jerk

I know that all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for our teaching and equipping (2Tim. 3:16). I know that while none of these books were written to us, they were all written for us — “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction” (Rom. 15:4). So, as I hover over Job 20 this morning, I am trying to figure out what I am supposed to picking up from what’s being laid down here.

Continuing the back and forth debate between Job’s position of “I did nothing wrong to deserve this” and his so-called friends counter-argument, “Oh yeah? You must of, or all that’s happened to you wouldn’t have happened to you.” Chapter 20 hands over the podium to Zophar. Z, you have three minutes to state your argument.

Zophar’s basic argument? God will judge the wicked with terrible stuff. You are have suffered terrible stuff. Ergo, you must be wicked. (Actually, Z’s a little more eloquent than that).

Do you not know this from of old, since man was placed on earth, that the exulting of the wicked is short, and the joy of the godless but for a moment? Though his height mount up to the heavens, and his head reach to the clouds, he will perish forever like his own dung; those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’ . . . Utter darkness is laid up for his treasures; a fire not fanned will devour him; what is left in his tent will be consumed. The heavens will reveal his iniquity, and the earth will rise up against him. The possessions of his house will be carried away, dragged off in the day of God’s wrath. This is the wicked man’s portion from God, the heritage decreed for him by God.”

(Job 20:4-7, 26-29 ESV)

Check that out. Those are the words of someone come to “comfort” Job who has lost all his possessions, all his children, and is covered in open sores. What a jerk!

Not too compassionate sounding. Not really all that understanding. He’s pretty cocky and sure of himself when it comes to discerning the purposes of heaven as to why his buddy is being slammed on earth. I’m pretty sure this is how not to do it.

So what’s the profit in noodling on this? Why chew on it? What instruction am I to pick up from this jerk?

Maybe it’s about how not to be a jerk.

I can know the will of God (the wicked will be judged), but I need to be careful in thinking I have a handle on all the ways of God. Suffering could be judgment. But maybe not. Suffering could also be sanctifying.

Seems to me that when it comes to the long-game, the 30,000 foot view of what God has in mind, I think I can have a reasonable assurance, based on the Scriptures, as to what God’s gonna do. But when it comes to the details, to connecting the dots in the here and now, I need to have a certain humility in my “discernment.” And, for sure I need to have a whole lot of compassion for those whose lives are turned upside down and trying to figure out a reason why.

I think reading the Scriptures as a mirror isn’t a bad practice, even when it comes to trying to figure out a guy like Z.

At the least it can be a warning. Who knows, it might even be a reflection that leads me in God’s kindness to repentance and by God’s grace again to the cross.

Huh. Maybe you can learn lessons from a jerk.

By God’s grace. For God’s glory.

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