prideful young man January 14 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Job 32, 33, 34

Judgmental Pride

Pride is often associated with youth, but it can be present in any one of any age. We make snap judgments about the behavior of others without knowing all the facts. Hopefully, as we get older we become more sober-minded, humble, and better listeners. How can we avoid judgmental 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 wealth, was misinterpreted as arrogance.

Job's friends are unsympathetic to his circumstances. They do not give him the benefit of the doubt. They think they know why he is suffering—he must have committed some sins against God and man. They have spiritual knowledge, yes, but that knowledge puffs them up with pride. They think they have all the answers.

When Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar run out of arguments, however, a younger companion, Elihu, enters the discussion. Whether he has always been a part of the group but unmentioned, or if he is an outsider who joined the small party, we are not sure. Out of respect for his elders, Elihu waits until Job's friends have expended their arguments. He is quite disgusted and angry that they do not convince him. Then, he says he has a better answer.

What is Elihu's answer to Job's defense? Elihu defends God. He says God is greater than man; and, although we would expect a man to defend himself, the Almighty does not have to answer to any man—he is incomprehensible in all knowledge and wisdom! God is all-powerful and can take man's breath away if he chooses (Job 34:14-15). He is all-wise and acts with perfect character—God always acts with justice and righteousness, unlike man.

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 has experienced dreams (night mares), visions, and afflictions (Job 7:13,14). Elihu suggests that even now the troubles 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 your afflictions so 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 is perfect in righteous and punishes us for our wrongdoings, 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. Elihu feels like he has to defend God, but really, the Almighty can take care of himself, as we shall see in the next lesson. Like Jesus is tested in the wilderness forty days and nights and then tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11), Job is tempted by Satan to curse God for all his trials. Like Jesus, the purpose for testing Job's faith serves to approve him as God's servant. If Job passes the test, the Almighty will judge him worthy of more blessings.

Are you experiencing trials and temptations? Perhaps the purpose is for you to come to know God personally so 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 which are not a result of sin, perhaps the Lord 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 us?

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 this. 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 we do. We need to stop pretending we have the answers to solve all maladies. Although our intentions may be good and we want to help, it may do more harm than good to those who are suffering or experiencing trouble.

Of course, it bothers us when Christians seem to be attacking the God we love and whom they once loved and served. In circumstances where people suffer severe pain or disillusionment over distressing situations, however, it is better to control our spirits and say nothing. We need to empathize and sympathize, not criticize. Sometimes, the best we can offer is comfort and prayer. Let us be gentle and understanding while the Holy Spirit works in the heart of the sufferer to comfort and convince him of the truth. 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 judgmental pride.
  • Trials and temptations can drive us to God for salvation or help (more...)
  • If you are a believer in Christ and are experiencing trials which 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.

Focus Verse

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

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A Look Ahead: Our Next Lesson is a continuation of Elihu's speech, where he makes Arrogant Presumptions. Let us learn from his mistakes.

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