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If it is true that I have gone astray, my error remains my concern alone (Job 19:4).
Why do we find it necessary to stick our noses in where they are not wanted? Why do we feel like the other person needs to hear our opinion?
The law dictionary defines “standing” as the right to file a lawsuit or file a petition under the circumstances. In legal terms, Job’s three friends had no standing to bring charges against him. Job himself even said he didn’t want to hear their opinions. Instead, all Job asked for was, “Have pity on me, my friends, have pity.” He goes on to ask, “Why do you pursue me as God does? Will you never get enough of my flesh?”
And then Job gives this warning: “If you say, ‘How we will hound him, since the root of trouble lies in him,’ you should fear the sword yourselves.” Despite this warning, Zophar still begins his argument by stating, “I hear a rebuke that dishonors me so I have to speak up.”
There are indeed times when our friends may be going astray and the loving thing we can do for them is speak a word of truth, but that is something entirely different than feeling compelled to share an opinion or sticking our noses in where they don’t belong. A good question to ask ourselves before speaking: Do I have standing here?
Far better for us to apply the Golden Rule this way: Treat others in their condition the way I would want to be treated in the same condition. And if I do feel as though I have standing, and need to speak a loving word, I need to examine myself first.
Job tells his friends, “You are miserable comforters, all of you!” (16:2). One of the best things they did for him was to simply sit silently in mourning alongside him. It was when they felt compelled to argue that they not only disappointed Job, but they dishonored God too.
My checklist before speaking:
- Do I have standing?
- Have I examined myself?
- Can I speak truth in love (and not just air my opinion)?
- Have I considered the Golden Rule?
If I can answer “Yes” to all four questions, then speak; otherwise, it’s far more loving to remain silent.