Words matter. That’s the takeaway I received for this week’s lesson on The Curse Causeless.
This week our attention is on the words of Job’s friend Eliphaz. He was one of the three, who in their concern and respect for Job, came to see him after his life was turned upside down. I imagine it was the talk of many. Job was rightfully viewed as a righteous man and it must have been confusing to see him in a position that would normally be equated with punishment from God.
Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? Job 4:7
I don’t fault Eliphaz for his misguided words. They seem quite reasonable for a friend to say. Job was in a terrible condition. As a friend, if I truly believed that God was punishing him for some infraction, I would want him to acknowledge whatever it was, repent of it and enjoin the mercy of God for restoration. That makes sense to me.
Just as Job didn’t understand the bigger picture, I can’t fault his friends for their false implications, knowing that they were equally oblivious to what was really going on. The belief that calamities are the punishment of God is one that is still held firmly by many today. We’ll discuss this in more detail next week.
For this week, as we consider the tenor of Eliphaz’s words, we will look at the impact of our own. What we speak is an indication of who we are and what our beliefs are.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45
We live in a world full of negativity. The weight of sin is a heavy load to bear. Many are going through life carrying heavy burdens, much of which is not of their own making. Fear of the future and disappointment in the present makes it hard for many to have a sense of hope. What many need are simple, sincere words of encouragement.
“Sin is the greatest of all evils, and it is ours to pity and help the sinner. There are many who err, and who feel their shame and their folly. They are hungry for words of encouragement. They look upon their mistakes and errors, until they are driven almost to desperation…
“Ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness.” Galatians 6:1. By faith and prayer press back the power of the enemy. Speak words of faith and courage that will be as a healing balsam to the bruised and wounded one. Many, many, have fainted and become discouraged in the great struggle of life, when one word of kindly cheer would have strengthened them to overcome.” Ellen White, Desire of Ages, 504
To do this is but to adopt the manner of Christ as He interacted with humanity. He is our example in all things.
“The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary” Isaiah 50:4
I know what some may be thinking. Isn’t our job to “cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” Isaiah 58:1 – to warn the world (and the church) of the coming judgements and the need of repentance? The simple answer is yes. The question comes down to our approach. Here’s the counsel of my favorite author:
“In seeking to correct or reform others we should be careful of our words. They will be a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. In giving reproof or counsel, many indulge in sharp, severe speech, words not adapted to heal the wounded soul. By these ill-advised expressions the spirit is chafed, and often the erring ones are stirred to rebellion. All who would advocate the principles of truth need to receive the heavenly oil of love. Under all circumstances reproof should be spoken in love. Then our words will reform but not exasperate. Christ by His Holy Spirit will supply the force and the power. This is His work.” Ellen White, Christ Object Lessons, 337
In all of our interactions with others we can either be a part of the problem or a part of the solution. The words we speak will be a good indication of what role we are playing. The solution to the great issues of life ultimately is God. He works through love and our motivation to help must always be weighted in that love.
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does “speaking encouraging words” mean to you?
- What role, if any, does criticizing play in the Christian’s approach to life?
- What, if any, should be the difference in speech/conversation between the believer and non-believer?
- What does Ephesians 4:29 mean? “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”
- What does Psalm 141:3 imply? “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
- What does Provers 12:25 mean? “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.”
- What does Psalm 19:14 mean? “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”
- Is it true that all true Christians are positive people? Explain your answer.
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: Highlighting the errors of false beliefs and practices is a primary part of our mission. Explain your answer.
We close this week’s lesson with some wise words from the book of Proverbs.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.” “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” Provers 15:1-2, 23
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!