In Job chapter 22, once again, we find Job being mercilessly falsely accused. This time, Eliphaz brings specifics to his unfounded charges.
Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:
2 “Can a man be profitable to God?
Surely he who is wise is profitable to himself.
3 Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are in the right,
or is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless?
4 Is it for your fear of him that he reproves you
and enters into judgment with you?
5 Is not your evil abundant?
There is no end to your iniquities. ~Job 22:1-5
Eliphaz begins by assuring Job that God has no need of him, even if he were righteous.
Come on, Job. Don’t you know there’s no rewards with God? You can’t merit anything by doing good or obeying him. Do you really think that piety earns favor with God? What are you, some kind of legalist? I thought you were reformed.
Well, Eli’s half right, but his delivery is rancid. While we do not earn favor or love through works, God is indeed pleased with righteousness and obedience. Why else would he call us to it? God honors those who are faithful in spiritual disciplines and he gives them a good return of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control when they persevere. Although our piety never adds to or detracts from God himself in any way, it surely adds to or detracts from our own well-being. Godliness is of value in every way. (1 Timothy 4:8)
Furthermore, Job serves a God who enjoys men’s sacrifices of praise. He delights to fill his nostrils with the aroma of our worship. Job’s obedience to God’s directives and his faithful prayer, sacrifice, and worship were not evidence of legalism or meritoriousness; they were evidence of his faithfulness.
Come to think of it, what better way is there to magnify a God who stands in need of no one and nothing than to display his amazing, careful, loving grace to condescend; to encourage; to invite; to accept the humble offerings of his children – not because he needs them, but because he wants them. When we act upon our beliefs by prayer, fasting, studying, serving, and worshiping, we have the unique opportunity to display not only God’s worthiness, but also, his grace to accept us despite our helplessness and insufficiency.
Eliphaz doesn’t seem to know much about that, though, does he? Where is his encouragement for Job in what he had done right? Oh, I forgot, nothing Job ever did was right in Eliphaz’s eyes. After all, that’s why he’s suffering, right? Job was pegged. Even good was seen as pure evil if Job’s hands touched it. If Job was wise and learned, it was because he was puffed up with knowledge and void of love. If he was void of knowledge, he was neglectful of diligent study and foolish. If he did good works he was trusting in himself. If he did not do good works he was oppressing the poor. If he carried out spiritual disciplines he was pretending to love God. If he faltered in spiritual disciplines he was godless. Job was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t in the eyes of this man and his friends – who, by the way, I’m certain were giving one another mad props as they bounced their wrong ideas off one another piercing Job with them all. How troubling that must have been to a man already vexed with such a load of grief.
Eliphaz went on to falsely accuse Job of hypocrisy, atheism, infidelity, gross impiety, injustice, oppression, no fear of God, and no regard for men. None of it was true. He sought to convict Job by shame and by fear. When he said, “Agree with God” (Job 22:21), what he really meant was, “Agree with me.” Maybe someone should’ve told Eli that he wasn’t exactly the Holy Spirit. I don’t know.
Well, what I do know is that there’s another guy who likes to peg people as one-dimensional and hopeless. Maybe Eli hung out with him a little too much. He also loves to damn people when they do as well as when they don’t. His name is Satan.
Christians! We must stop being Eliphaz! We will never earn the confidence of our peers if all we ever do is discourage wrong…especially when everything is wrong in our eyes. We must encourage right without darkening it by assuming ill-motives and underlying evil simply because we lack discernment. There will always be people who do the right things for the wrong reasons. We shouldn’t ever assume that certain people, you know, those ones we love to hate, fear, envy or have no practical use for in our lives, are sinister in all their undertakings. Only Satan does things like that.
Don’t be a jerk. Encourage one another despite imperfections. When you see a man suffering, be gentle and extend extra compassion – not because God needs you to, but because he wants you to. Then, like Job, the guilty will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.
He delivers even the one who is not innocent,
who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands. ~Job 22:30