Why are humans so drawn to bad news? The quickest way to destroy the ratings of a news organization is to only post positive news. Human nature tends to be excited and even enjoy negative news. When the latest juicy story drops about the scandal, people go crazy over it.
This helps us understand Job’s friends, and the fallen human nature at work in the book of Job. Why do Job’s friends seem intent on hurting him, and insisting that he is wrong? Job finally lashes out at his sorry friends in Chapter 19. They had reproached and vexed Job over and over. They were terrible friends.
If they had honestly wanted to help Job, is their approach really that helpful? Why are they so negative, why are they so “preachy”? Why are they convinced they are right, and seem unwilling to even listen to Job with an open ear? What is going on with these “friends”?
Two thoughts are presented in this text by Job of why his friends were so sorry:
First, they felt the need to defend their theological positions about God. They had to be right, they had to win the argument, they had to validate their claims about God. They were more concerned about being RIGHT then they were about being a help and blessing to their friend. Even if their theological position had been right, their approach/application of that belief was totally wrong.
We need to be careful when we have to be right. When someone is hurting and reaching out for help, and you are more concerned about being right than being helpful… you have failed as a friend. These friends gloried in Job’s agony, and were drawn to his misfortune because it validated their beliefs… and they got to say “TOLD YA SO!”
Second, these friends used Job’s misfortune to make themselves look and feel good about themselves. Job says they “magnified themselves against him”. By reproaching, shaming, and accusing Job of wrong, they are simultaneously exalting themselves as righteous, higher than Job, and spiritual. They are taking pleasure in Job’s misfortune because it presents the opportunity for them to vaunt themselves… to finally look good.
Throughout the Bible there have been those who enjoyed the agony of others: Doeg who cursed David in 2 Samuel, Ahithophel wanted David to suffer, Cain killed Able, Saul was jealous of David, and Paul persecuted the church before salvation.
Today we see this happen even amongst the ranks of Christians. We must always be weary when we get excited to hear a “juicy story” about someone who messed up…. Shouldn’t it grief us and cause us to want to pray for others? When other church members have problems it shouldn’t produce in us a sense of pride that we are better because of it. Always have the heart of Christ who was grieved by the sin and wrong of others… not excited.
If you have “friends” like Job, a wise approach is that of David when dealing with Doeg. David wrote in Psalm 35:26, “Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonor that magnify themselves against me.” You know what is right, so don’t let the attacks of others get you down.
Daily Scripture Reading
Job 17 - 20
“Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me.”