Job 16:4 (ESV)
I also could speak as you do,
if you were in my place;
I could join words together against you
and shake my head at you.
One of the things that made Job’s comforters “miserable comforters” was their inability to view life through his eyes. That is an extremely difficult thing to do. Most church conflicts are couched in terms of sin versus obedience in some form. Whether we are talking about a difference in theological emphasis, a disagreement over where money should be spent, or what the focus should be in our worship services, we almost always talk about these issues as though they are sin issues. The reality is that they rarely are. They are almost always simply an issue of different people viewing circumstances through different lenses. Unfortunately, we allow our lack of understanding to become a sin issue.
When we fail to recognize this, and fail to try to understand how others are thinking, we damage the church and the community. People get angry and leave. People are “disciplined.” People hold grudges. People talk about their frustrations to others. That results in division within the church, and defamation of the church and God. What was not a sin issue becomes a sin issue.
Job says, “If I were in your place I could say what you are saying.” If he saw life through their eyes he would conclude what they were concluding. The problem is that their eyes were faulty. Almost everyone thinks that they see clearly. We rarely do. What is common sense to us is foreign to others. What is obvious to one makes no sense to another. Grace is needed, but criticism is offered.
In my previous blog on this passage I wrote that we need to be like the Holy Spirit in his role as comforter. We don’t do that well. We like to play Holy Spirit in his role of searching hearts and convicting of sin. Job’s friends thought they saw things clearly. They thought that they were helping by playing Holy Spirit in Job’s life, but they picked the wrong role. Instead of comforters they were accusers. That never ends well.
My prayer is that I would view others with eyes of grace. I don’t mean that we should overlook sin. But, I am fully aware that what we often call sin may not be sin. It might be hopelessness. It might be despair. It might pain and confusion. It might be a simple lack of understanding or training. If I can look first through eyes of grace everything changes. The same grace that sent my savior to die in my place to offer me undeserved acceptance sent my savior to die in their place as well. Today I choose to look at others through Jesus eyes, because mine aren’t very clear.