Then Job spoke again:
“I have heard all this before. What miserable comforters you are!
Won’t you ever stop blowing hot air? What makes you keep on talking?
I could say the same things if you were in my place. I could spout off criticism and shake my head at you.
But if it were me, I would encourage you. I would try to take away your grief.
Instead, I suffer if I defend myself. And I suffer no less if I refuse to speak.
“O God, you have ground me down and devastated my family. As if to prove I have sinned, you’ve reduced me to skin and bones. My gaunt flesh testifies against me. God hates me and angrily tears me apart. . .
People jeer and laugh at me. . . God has handed me over to sinners. He has tossed me into the hands of the wicked.” Job 16:1-11
Can you imagine how Job was feeling? Here was this man of dignity, reduced to poverty and stricken with boils all over his body; sitting in a pile of ashes and scraping himself with a piece of broken pottery to control the itch! He felt God had devastated his family and reduced him to skin and bones. People were jeering at him and he concluded that God hated him! Picture Job in that miserable state and picture his three closest friends blaming his situation on the presumption that Job was a wicked man. These were friends who had come to console him when they heard of his misfortune. Their words were so condemning and painful that Job described them as “miserable comforters.” They were just criticizing instead of comforting him.
Job couldn’t hide his disappointment in his friends’ conduct. He said, “But if it were me, I would encourage you. I would try to take away your grief.”
Question: What kind of person are you? Are you an encourager or do you have a critical spirit? Are you the type who leaves a person feeling better than before or do you have the kind of critical spirit that leaves people worse off than they were before? When you walk into a meeting or gathering, do people look forward to your words because they will feel encouraged, or do you critically speak your mind based on faulty assumptions?
The world has enough pain and critics. The world has enough self-righteous people who are always speaking critically and judging others wrongly. Resolve to be an encourager, not a discourager. Resolve to heal with your words, not to wound. Resolve to clothe your words with love even if you have to speak the painful truth. Resolve to leave people feeling encouraged, not condemned.
Prayer: Lord, the world is full of pain and misery and there are times when I might be in a position to speak to others who are experiencing trials. Please help me to have the tongue of a comforter and not a discourager. Amen.