For I have not finished defending God! I am telling you nothing but the truth,
for I am a man of great knowledge. (Job 36: 1-2, 4 NLT)
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Wisdom is the loving use of what we know. Job’s friends lacked the understanding of how to apply truth to his suffering. They may have been more concerned about being right than helping their friend.
It is possible to say right things in the wrong way or to utter true sayings at an improper time or place. Many of the things that Job’s counselors said were true but did not apply to Job. The Devil knows the Word of God and is not shy about using it on us, out of context. Just because something is true, does not mean it is right to say it. Elihu and his friends made the mistake that you and I often make. They assumed that life is a mere cause and effect relationship. Job was suffering; therefore, he was being punished for his wrongdoings. The Book of Job teaches us that life is not that simple. Bad things happen to good people. In Job's case, he suffered due to his righteousness.
A telling point in this interchange is when Elihu said that he only tells the truth and he has great knowledge (v 4). Anytime we think we have a corner on the truth; it shows our ignorance. If you think you are wise, you are probably not. The smartest thing Elihu could have done would have been to talk less and listen more. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Better to remain silent and be thought to be a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
There is a sign that hangs on the walls of many our public schools. It says, “Knowledge is Power.” This is very true, but it’s also right that knowledge alone is dangerous. The Bible says that before knowledge you need to have virtue (2 Peter 1:5). If we speak to people with our heads but without our hearts, it is like pouring vinegar on a wound. Knowledge without wisdom, like truth without grace, never heals the hurting. Unlike Job’s friends, let’s lovingly apply knowledge to those in pain.
Image used with permission by Google.
Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places” YWAM Publishing