I think that friendships come in all shapes and sizes. I know that on social media we can have long lists of “friends” … yet hardly know each other at all. What is a friend and what should they be like? Are you a good friend?
Job had friends that were trying to tear him down. Their argument was that GOD was punishing Job because he had obviously done something really bad. They would not let go of this argument and just kept at it. They sounded logical and intelligent with what they had to say … but they were not right. They felt that they had the right to have a go at Job because they were now in a position of authority over him in regards to righteousness and favour with GOD.
But Job was secure. No matter what his friends accused him of, no matter how logical it seemed, he knew that he was not inferior. He uses this phrase twice, ‘I am not inferior to you’ (12:3, 13:2).
What a low point in a friendship when you feel like someone is trying to do that to you. There are so many relationships that are based on power being exerted over an ‘inferior’ life. In today’s world we see the extreme of this power in abuse and neglect, slavery and dictatorship but there are also the more subtle versions of bullying and manipulation. Where there had once been a spark of light in ‘friendship, there is only darkness to be found and a twisted form of relationship.
Job, however, knows how to deal with this. He knew who to listen to. He knew that it was GOD who would have ultimate say on his life even though he didn’t understand his circumstances. He heard his friends but he didn’t listen. His desire was to speak with the Almighty. The one that power, wisdom, counsel, understanding, strength and insight belongs to (Job 12:13,16). What GOD had to say would be worth listening to, would bring perspective and life. If he was going to listen to anyone, it would be the voice of GOD he would strain to hear through all the other babble.
He had to choose who to listen to. This is a decision that we must take too. The physical voices and actions of friends can make a strong impression on us. They can lift us up and encourage … but they can also flatter; they can be kind … but not honest; they can bring direction … and lead us on the wrong path. Our friends are only human. We all have faults and we all mess up. None of us is more righteous than the other, we all make mistakes! But choosing the right friends is important. I have found that the best friendships that I have are ones that are honest and real … lumps and all! The friendships that are the best for us are the ones that have a voice like Jesus or at least direct us that way.
Job was right in that in order for him to understand who he really was he had to not listen to his friends but to listen to GOD. Job knew that his identity was not based on how his friends thought of him or what they said to him, but on what GOD declared over him. I have wondered if I worry too much about what people think of me … I know that I have in the past. Since I have been in a mindset of ‘I am not inferior to you’ I have found that I don’t care so much what people think or say. It is liberating! This isn’t arrogance, but it is a thing to gasp hold of, it is an identity. I am not inferior because I know that I am GOD’s treasured possession. It is also something to speak over others … they are not inferior to me … I can treat them and love them as GOD’s treasure too.
Do you need to lift yourself from being inferior or lift others? Is it time to be a better friend? Do you need to listen for GOD’s words on your circumstance?
If you fancy reading another post about friendship … I wrote one on my author blog a while ago. You can find it here.