Read Job 4
Focus on verse 8
Having grown up on a farm, I learned a little about planting and harvesting. The one principle that was plainly evident was that if we planted wheat we harvested wheat. If we planted corn we harvested corn. The same was true of the garden. If we planted carrots we harvested carrots. In my experience this principle was never violated. While there were places in the field where what we planted did not grow, there was never an occasion where we planted corn and were surprised to harvest a crop of carrots. The point being – unless there was a total crop failure – we harvested in accordance with what had been planted.
In today’s chapter, Job’s friend Eliphaz observes that in his experience “those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” The inference in this case is that the trouble that has come upon Job is the result of some sin that Job committed that is now coming home to roost. While this premise is true, it is perhaps not quite as clear-cut in this case. We have the unique posture in observing the dialogue that follows of being privy to the conversation between God and Satan which neither Job nor any of his friends were aware of.
As the following chapters of dialogue unfold we will hear Job standing upon his claim that he is innocent of wrong doing, while his friends insist that stuff like this does not happen to innocent people.
This chapter then begins to set the stage for the ensuing discussion. As the observer listening to the conversation we will find ourselves agreeing at times with both sides, because both identify elements of truth. It is true that typically sin has a way of coming home to roost one way or another. It is also true that there are times when bad things happen to people who did not sow what they are reaping. In these cases it is helpful to understand that what they are reaping was still sown by someone. In this case it seems Satan had a hand in the sowing of the trouble that Job is reaping. As the informed observer, we know this – Job does not.
Evidently, the take home from todays reading is “things may not always be as they appear”. Jobs friends were certain Job was hiding something, Job was adamant that his conscience was clear…who was right? The lesson I take from this is to never assume that a person who is suffering brought it upon him or her self. Whether they did or not is really not my concern anyway. My concern is to be there to support and console the person who is suffering, not heap condemnation upon them for something they may not even have done. It is important to have discernment when showing compassion, but not nearly as important as showing compassion while exercising discernment.