“Is not your wickedness great?
Are not your sins endless?”
Job 22:5 (NIV)
Along my life’s journey I have bumped into a few individuals who seem convinced that they hold the office of Special Prosecutor of the Almighty. Their mission, it appears, is to charge me (and others, to be sure) with my many sins and shortcomings. Job’s so-called friend, Eliphaz, now reveals himself to be one of these junior prosecutors.
In today’s chapter, Eli’s argument takes a decidedly prosecutorial bent. Not only is Eli convinced that Job is suffering for his many sins, he is now going to write an indictment and list the specific sins that surely must have precipitated such divine retribution as Job is clearly suffering. With Special Prosecutor Eliphaz, justice works in reverse. He first looks upon what he deems to be divine punishment and then decides what laws must have been broken to deserve such a sentence. Eliphaz comes up with quite a list. In fact, as I read it on this chilly December morning it sounds a lot like Ebenezer Scrooge:
“You demanded security from your relatives for no reason;
you stripped people of their clothing, leaving them naked.
You gave no water to the weary
and you withheld food from the hungry,
though you were a powerful man, owning land—
an honored man, living on it.
And you sent widows away empty-handed
and broke the strength of the fatherless.”
Bah. Humbug. It seems to me that Eliphaz reveals himself to be the one being miserly with wisdom, love and compassion.
Here are three problems I have with individuals like Eliphaz who wish to indict me of all my sins and shortcomings:
- Believe me, it is not necessary for anyone to convince me of my failures. I know them all too well.
- At least half (probably more) of the things you charge me with are simply not true.
- You don’t know nearly half of the things of which I am truly guilty.
Jesus was pretty adamant that “special prosecutor” was not part of the job description for those who wish to follow him. Love is at the top of the list. Forgiveness is up there too, along with compassion and kindness. We’re supposed to lift up those who are down, not stand over them and convince them why they fell.