But how can a mortal be righteous before God? (Job 9:2)

ONE OF JOB’S INFAMOUS COMFORTORS, Bildad, knew just enough truth to be dangerous. “Surely God does not reject a blameless man or strengthen the hands of evildoers” (Job 8:20). In other words, “Job, fess up! You must be hiding something shameful or else God wouldn’t allow this calamity.”

How simple things seem to those with a little knowledge, but who lack understanding of the bigger picture. While Job wrestled with the deep and mysterious ways of God, he endured these snippets of truth from his friends. As Job and others of sincere and searching faith in all ages seek an understanding of God’s mysterious ways, those who consider themselves to have uncovered those ways assemble a gauntlet of suspicion through which the seeker must pass. And while those who refuse to be satisfied with pat answers torture their own minds and hearts, the assembly of the self-righteous let fly the piercing arrows of judgment.

We know how the story ends. We read how Job was justified before God and his friends reprimanded for their careless and harmful words. But is the lesson embedded firmly enough in our hearts to check us when we’re tempted to presume that we know what God is doing in a person’s life? Or is there perhaps a little leaven of self-righteousness seeping out from the dark corners of our soul?

Look first to God and seek a righteous understanding of others.

Bill Beck loves spending time in the outdoors hiking, camping, and enjoying God’s creation. He and his wife, Lisa, live in South Dakota.