Such Are the Paths

Today's devotion from Job 8.

Bildad presents himself as a detached traditionalist. He looks to the past to understand the present, but does so in a cold and calculating way. There is no compassion in him. There is almost a mathematical precision to his statements. It this callous attitude and matter of fact manner that cuts to the bone.

In verse 4, Bildad bluntly states that the obvious rationale for Job's loss is due to the fact that his children sinned. He levels the allegation, "If your children have sinned against him, he has delivered them into the hand of their transgression." (Job 8:4, ESV) Other translations treat the verse differently, using "when" instead of "if." One commentator referred to this verse as, "...the most cruel and least tactful."

However, again, there is a flaw to Job's friend's logic. There is no mention of Job's children having sinned in the previous chapters. All we know is that Job feared that they might sin and offered sacrifices just in case. Additionally, you and I are privy to facts that the others do not know. Job's children were taken by Satan in a scheme designed to help him defeat God.

The tragedy in this realization is that to both the Adversary and the callous believer, Job's children were not important. For Satan, they were merely tools to help him win. For Bildad, they were simply facts and figures calculated in his cold religious arithmetic. Looking from this perspective, both perspectives are broken. And, later, both will be held by the Pharisees and Saducees of Jesus' day. They would be willing to stone a woman to prove a point. They would make calculated moves without consideration for the lives they would destroy.

Christian, where is your compassion today? Are you touched by the brokenness of those around you, or annoyed at their inability to make "right" decisions? Are you concerned for the state of their lives, or are you convinced they "deserve" the difficulty they know? Jesus had a way of balancing bold truth and warm compassion. Let's aim for that goal in our interactions today.