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Responding to Bad Advice
05/03/2009
Scripture: Genesis 3:6-7; Proverbs 12:15; Proverbs ...
Track 5 of 11 in the Job: Endure to the End series
Running time: 58 minutes, 54 seconds.
The book of Job is a great book to read and study when one wants to understand the difference between good and bad advice. In this book there are a lot of both. The important point to chapters 3-37 is, not all advice is good advice. This is even true when the one giving the advice thinks that its the right advice.



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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

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Responding to Bad Advice

It is good getting back to our study of Job. I believe this book is one of the best books in the entire Bible. There is so much practical wisdom found in it that you and I can learn a lot if we would take our time reading it and applying all that Job wants to teach us. We spent 4 weeks on the first two chapters of Job. Those first two chapters were very important and for us to fly through them would have caused us to miss too much life experience.

There are 40 more chapters to go. However, we will not spend as much time on the rest of them. Of the 42 chapters found in Job, 3-37 contain a running conversation between Job and his so called friends. We will spend 2 or 3 lessons in those chapters but I am eager to get to the end of the story. It is not as important to read what his friends tell him, what is fascinating to read are the questions God quizzes Job on. At the point when Job begins to question God on why his life had taken such a bad turn, God gives to Job a test with many answers to fill out. We too need to take that test. For Job, it stopped him dead in his tracks. Who is worthy to question God, Job found out, no one.

How many times in your life have you questioned God? When have you said this statement, “Obviously God is taking me in the wrong direction. He wants me to go here or he wants me to do this. It is obvious to me that God is wrong so I will do this or I will go here instead.”

Genesis 3:6-7 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

What was Eve’s biggest mistake here? Satan knew where to attack her. Why this tree, why that fruit? Deep down inside, what weakness did Satan see that he could exploit? In a nut shell, Eve thought she was smarter than God, or that she had the chance to be just as smart as God. Deep down inside she probably didn’t agree with keeping her hands off the fruit of the tree. All Satan had to do was give her enough information for her to hang herself with her own self wisdom.

The book of Job is a great book to read and study when one wants to understand the difference between good and bad advice. In this book there are a lot of both. The important point to chapters 3-37 is, not all advice is good advice. This is even true when the one giving the advice thinks that it’s the right advice.

Have you ever given advice to someone to find out later that what you gave actually was not correct? What does a person do in that case? Did you go back and correct yourself?

All of us have received some bad advice at some point in our lives. You followed the counsel you received from someone you trusted and then suffered the consequences. But you also have received good counsel as well. You followed the counsel you received from someone you trusted and then enjoyed the benefits. In the Bible there is a book of wise council. Every Christian needs to be in it regularly. It is called Proverbs, a thirty one chapter book full of wise and helpful advice. One that pops out at me all the time is:

Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.

I bet every one of us can relate to this wise piece of advice. How many times have I said to myself, I wish I had listened to what they told me? As a teenager, I was always right and my parents were just mean people not to let me do things I know were safe and okay to do. It is amazing how stupid parents are when their kids are teenagers and how smart we become again once they grow up and become adults themselves. In fact, the older they get, the smarter we become especially when it comes to financial needs and advice.

Proverbs 19:20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.

The Book of Proverbs is full of similar statements about what is wise and what is considered wise counsel.

What is the difference between a person who is smart and a person who is wise? Can a person who is smart be wise? Can a smart person not be wise?

One of the early verses in the Book of Proverbs sets the definition of what a foolish person is. Wisdom really has nothing to do with your education. In fact, a person can be totally uneducated but very wise. It is not unusual to find the most fools in the halls of our best schools and universities.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

According to Proverbs 1:7, what is the definition of wisdom and the definition of foolishness?

Wise counsel is not always easy to hear. In fact, wise counsel can be painful especially if it is designed to correct a behavior that is wrong. It hurts a friend to have to tell you the tough counsel and it can hurt hearing it as well. But people who really love each other embrace and depend upon good and wise counsel. To allow a friend, a spouse or a child to go in the wrong direction only because we are too afraid to hurt their feelings is not true friendship or love. Tough love can hurt but is also saves and is a wound that heals quickly.

Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

This kind of love can leave a bruise. This bruise can stay with you for awhile but you are a better person for it. Such bruising is much more helpful and reliable than a phony embrace. Solomon calls it the kiss of a flatterer that comes from our enemy. It is interesting watching politicians work amongst themselves. There are those who are bitter enemies and yet when you see them talking to each other or in the same company, they smile at each other, they shake hands and even hug or kiss each other from time to time. But each one is looking for the opportunity to stab the other one in the back at the earliest opportunity.

Back to Job; here is a man in tremendous pain. His wife just asked him to curse God and die. He is sitting in the dump full of sores and penniless. There is nothing left but he and his hurting wife. Life is dark and painful when all of a sudden three friends show up.

All of us have made hospital visits before. When you go up to visit someone, what is your reason for being there? What are some of the things you do and say while you are there?

Job 2:11-13 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

For seven days his friends sat with him and didn’t say a word. It also doesn’t say they helped him. They just sat there looking at him and probably had a horrified look on their face. Throughout the book of Job the writer describes what Job looked like and how he suffered and how bad he smelled. What his friends saw when they arrived was a person so grotesque, they didn’t recognize him and couldn’t speak. What is really bad, when they did decide to speak, things only got worse for Job.

If you were Job, what would your reaction be to such a visit by your friends? Think about this a minute, you are in the hospital and you had a major accident. You are hurting from your injuries and might even be worried that you might die. Then someone who comes to see you reacts with looks of horror, starts to cry and tell you how bad you look and smell. How would that visit affect you?

Right before Job’s three friends begin to speak, they hear from Job the content found in chapter 3. Job starts out cursing the day he was born. Here are some excerpts:

“May the day of my birth perish, and the night it was said, ‘A boy is born!’ That day—may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine upon it… “Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb… For now I would be lying down in peace; I would be asleep and at rest… “Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure… What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.”

Chapter 3 gives us a pretty good idea what Job was feeling sitting there all covered with sores with his friends. Can you imagine visiting someone to hear them scream out in agony the words found in chapter 3? If you were Eliphaz, the first to speak to Job, what would you say?

Chapter 4 starts off the conversion between Job and his friends. Eliphaz starts out.

Job 4:1-2 “If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? But who can keep from speaking?

We have all been here; there has been a long period of silence so we have to be sensitive as we ease into the discussion. Eliphaz finds himself in the same place. Silence can’t go on forever and silence solves nothing. So he starts out with a very courteous statement.

Job 4:3-4 Think how you have instructed many, how you have strengthened feeble hands. Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees.

All of these things Job did do for others. What Eliphaz said was true but he used these words to get to his first jab. It didn’t take long for Job’s friend to throw the first punch even though it was delivered in a gentle way.

Job 4:5-6 But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed. Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope?

What is the message Eliphaz is sending to Job? What did his statement mean and is it true? It is easy giving others counsel when life is good for you but when the shoe is on the other foot, all of a sudden you are out of control.

Job 4:7-8 “Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it.

What hard advice is Eliphaz telling Job in this statement?Look closely, Job, you are getting what you deserve.

For the next few chapters Eliphaz continues with this line of preaching. That is exactly what Eliphaz is doing, he is not consoling or helping, he is preaching and letting Job know how he personally feels about Job’s situation. The innocent don’t find themselves in these situations. Only those who go against God find themselves in your spot?

Is this true wisdom? Only those who plow evil reap evil? Does the church believe this? Are there actions that we take that can reinforce the statement made by Eliphaz? What is wrong with that statement? Can evil come upon the innocent?

Please make it a point to read chapters 4 and 5. There are some good statements made in the preaching by Eliphaz. If someone would read them outside of the context of Job getting what he deserved, the statements would be solid truth. But one has to read 4 and 5 in the context that Job did something wrong and all the calamity that has fallen on him is his fault. Job is not innocent and thus the problems are of his doing.

What I want us to concentrate on his the response by Job. Throughout the Book of Job we will see this back and forth dialog between Job and his friends as they talk through Job’s problems. But what jumped out at me were the opening words to his response to Eliphaz.

Job 6:2-3 “If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas—no wonder my words have been impulsive.

What did Job’s response say to his friend? What does it say to the church?

When people come to the end of their tether, in the bottomless pit of it all, rash words will come out that they will later regret. But while it is happening we need to give them a little slack. Too often, those of us who are not in the situation of those who are suffering tend to be judgmental toward their actions and what they say. All Job is asking is please see and understand what I am going through and look past my reaction and please apply some comfort. Look past your judgment and show compassion.

There are some real lessons we can learn from Eliphaz and Job. We really see these played out in the Gospels and how Jesus dealt with those suffering.

• Assumptions reduce understanding and insight: When we assume what a person is going through, it can lead us away from the truth and too often my assumptions lead to blunt words and condemnation.

• Shame blocks grace and hinders relief: Shame based counsel leaves people under a load of guilt rather than offering fresh hope of recovery. Three words that do no good, Shame On You.

• Pride blocks out mercy and compassion: When you think you figured things out and have the final answer and act as though you are the example to model, you stop the flow of mercy. Pride and compassion don’t mix.