People often make the mistake of giving simplistic answers to those who are in difficult situations. Such was the case with Job’s friend, Zophar. Regardless of Job’s insistence that he was innocent of wrongdoing (6:24; 9:21; 10:2, 7), this third companion began his analysis of Job’s situation based on the flawed assumption that his friend’s great torment was clear evidence of his hidden moral guilt. Citing God’s infinite wisdom, he insinuated that not only was Job receiving his due penalty, but that if the full depth of Job’s sin were revealed, it would be just for him to receive even greater punishment than he had thus far experienced (11:5 – 6). However, this insensitive friend evidently missed his own hypocrisy. Since no one can be judged faultless compared to the perfection of God, Zophar also merited the same penalty he thought Job deserved.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used an exaggerated contrast to warn his followers of well-intentioned but damaging double standards. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? . . . You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Mt 7:3, 5). Scripture encourages believers to help and guide others as they deal with wrongdoing (Gal 6:2; Col 3:13, 16), but not before serious self-examination and dealing honestly with personal failures.
Jesus, forgive me for those times when I feel smug and self-righteous. Please help me to remember that only you see the big picture. I want to relate to people as you would relate to them: with compassion and grace. Amen.

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