Half-Truths Hurt

Whitney Capps

Day: 18 | Plan: Suffering and Sovereignty

Today’s Reading: Job 18

Job 18:21 (NIV) “Surely such is the dwelling of an evil man; such is the place of one who does not know God.”

It’s hard to read the book of Job and not get frustrated with Job’s friends. Job himself seems irritated by their vain accusations. His situation is desperate, and his friends don’t really offer much comfort.

Scripture doesn’t tell us their intentions or motivations. When they first come to Job they seem compassionate and grieved for their friend. But as the speeches progress they become less sympathetic and more self-righteous. Some of what they say is right. But because of their pride, both they and Job miss the truth.

Let’s look at Bildad’s speech in Job 18. He first begins by shaming Job for not considering their “wisdom.” Apparently, Bildad is frustrated that they are still arguing; he forgets that it only takes one person to stop an argument. Bildad could have prayed for Job, offered him compassion or simply walked away, but he isn’t interested in a dialogue; he’s interested in winning. His friend is grieving, and Bildad simply wants to be right.

So he begins lecturing Job again. In his first speech recorded in Job 8, his main argument was that Job should repent. When Job replies that he is upright before God, Bildad tries a different approach.

Bildad builds an argument to support a pre-supposed conclusion. He is sure Job is to blame, and his guilt is the reason for all his heartache. Bildad’s argument isn’t humble; he doesn’t ask God for wisdom and he misses the mark. What he tells Job is only half the truth. And half-truth hurts.

Bildad reminds Job that the wicked are punished. In terrifying detail, he describes the plight of the unrighteous man.

His lamp burns out.

Terrors frighten him.

His strength is failing.

His memory perishes from the earth.

He is driven from the earth and into darkness.

All of these descriptions are true for those who will be judged by God after death. Their strength will fail as they face their eternity in a real place called “hell.” God will judge the unrighteous, and they will feel desperate, alone and terrified to be alienated from Him for all eternity.

However, Bildad wasn’t talking about eternity; he was talking about here and now. But you and I both know that the wicked don’t always experience that in this life. He was partly right; this is a half-truth.

Bildad’s pride and desire to be right leads him to misrepresent God. Perhaps this is his greatest offense. Thankfully, Job is a man who knows God’s character. Imagine the devastation if Bildad had been talking with someone who didn’t know God at all. As the people of God, we have a holy responsibility to reflect Him rightly to others.

Let’s be a people to search for and share the whole truth about who God is. This world desperately needs that truth … all of it.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am so grateful that You are there in our pain. Your character gives us hope when life feels hopeless. Even when we don’t have answers, give us peace that You can be trusted. In Jesus' name, amen.

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