Job 32 – HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS AND ALIENATE PEOPLE
First impressions are important when you meet someone new. I don’t really like Elihu much. ELIHU seems to me to be intent on losing friends quickly and easily, creating antagonism, decreasing his influence and generally turning people off. He bristles with contempt for others because of his arrogance. He criticises, condemns and complains about Job and his friends, and argues the point.
Since he is the apprentice that Dale Carnegie would fire, he should audition for the starring role in the Simon Pegg film “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” or write his own leadership manual on “How to Insult People by Giving Offense and Arousing Resentment.” Have you met people like this?
Who is ELIHU anyway? Eli who? He is a Buzite (I’m sure Job wishes he would Buzz off). Buz was the son of Nahor, brother to Abraham (Genesis 22:21). Not only is he from the clan of Ram, but his character is RAMbunctious, “noisy and lacking in restraint or discipline, unruly”. This guy RAMS his way into the story in Job 32 and I don’t even know where or when he first appeared on the scene. The only thing I can discover about him is that he is young and angry, not a good combination.
HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS AND ALIENATE PEOPLE.
1. BEGIN WITH INSULTS AND A LACK OF RESPECT
Elihu appears to show respect for his elders by waiting until they have finished speaking. But that’s where his respect ends. He INSULTS them by intimating that although wisdom comes with age, they haven’t shown any. In Job 32:9 (NLT) he says, “Sometimes the elders are not wise. Sometimes the aged do not understand justice.” Subtle. Not!
2. TELL PEOPLE HOW INTELLIGENT YOU ARE COMPARED TO THEM
He says, “But there is a spirit within people, the breath of the Almighty within them, that makes them intelligent. … So listen to me, and let me tell you what I think. … not one of you has refuted Job or answered his arguments … You sit there baffled, with nothing more to say” Job 32:8-15 (NLT). He virtually calls them foolish. He is the only one who is intelligent enough to answer Job. He is not exactly getting them on side so far.
3. CALL ATTENTION TO HOW BIASED AND UNFAIR THEY ARE
Elihu professes to speak by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and can’t contain it any longer (Job 32:16-20). Nevertheless he continues to insult everyone by implication. He says “I won’t play favourites or try to flatter anyone” (Job 32:21 NLT). He implies that they are biased and unfair and only he is objective.
4. DRAW ATTENTION TO THE INADEQUACY OF OTHERS
He says their logic is flawed. He’s right. Logic has been the problem with all three of Job’s friends. Logic is not enough to comprehend what is happening to Job or solve his dilemma. Sometimes our reasoning is not adequate to understand the multiplicity of layers of what is happening in a person’s life, or even in our own. Only God is able to do this and although Elihu claims to speak prophetically into Job’s dilemma, it doesn’t sound like God. All he offers is condemnation. What a waste of verbiage.
JOBS FRIENDS cannot see any reason for Job’s suffering other than that he has sinned but they can’t convince him. JOB can see no reason for his suffering and cannot understand why God seems to be treating him unjustly. ELIHU sees that Job is sinning because he is accusing God of injustice.
Where is a friend who cares enough for Job to simply pray for him? What can you offer to a friend who is bearing pain and who is suffering great loss? When intelligence, objectivity, logic and self-righteousness just won’t cut it, what can you bring to help heal the situation?
I met a woman yesterday who has had a stroke and her whole life has changed dramatically. She despairs of life and my prayers for God to intervene into her situation bring her strength and hope for a future.
Love and faith are often counterintuitive to logic and reason. God wants to touch each person’s life and help them reach out and accept His love and practical compassion even in the midst of great suffering. The question is “How can I be an instrument of His love today?“
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