Here’s a few examples of the types of people or the type of conversations we often face in our friendships. The old saying is some people are in our lives as a blessing and others to teach us a lesson.
1.The “I got a word” friend: (Eliphaz)
“A word was brought to me in secret; my ears caught a whisper of it. Among unsettling thoughts from visions in the night, when deep sleep descends on men, fear and trembling came over me and made all my bones shake. A wind/spirit passed by me, and I shuddered with fear. A figure stood there, but I could not recognize its appearance; a form loomed before my eyes. I heard a quiet voice: “Can a person be more righteous than God, or a man more pure than his Maker?”
This person is often injecting their ideas of what God is doing or expects us to do. They want to direct us instead of offering up their thoughts for us to discern as helpful or not. They try to speak for God. It’s often a controlling issue that reflects a unsafe person. 3 out of the 4 friends were wrong according to God in the end of the book. Only one friend, Eliphaz, wasn’t rebuked by God. Think about that when you analyze the voices that you have given authority in your life.
2. The “if I were you” friend: (Eliphaz)
Job 5:8 “However, if I were you, I would appeal to God and would present my case to Him.”
The friend who always has to say something and usually ends up turning everything we are going through into some story about themselves. These people are consumed with themselves. They use us to help themselves and are rarely there for us. Their advice is usually demeaning.
3. The insensitive, clueless or cruel friend: (Bildad)
Job 8:4“When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin.”
These types of people, often wound us deeply through connecting our pain and suffering with their idea of sin. Every bad thing that happens is a direct connection to our failure somewhere. These types can often find pleasure in our pain. Like a beauty pageant contestant taking pleasure over the prettiest getting a zit on her nose. The others problems become stepping stones for our exaltation. They use us, even our sufferings to make themselves feel better to advance their own agendas. These people often leave us first in dark or trying seasons.
4. The ‘You just haven’t prayed enough friend. (Bildad)
“But if you will seek God earnestly and plead with the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your prosperous state.”
The hyper-spiritual friend whose worldview is cause them to think in dualistic ways. Things are either good or bad, God or the devil, black or white. These types think all the challenges of life have spiritual roots. They often build their own sense of importance or acceptance from others and God on their religious performance and then judge others if they don’t measure up to their own standards. Superstitious like ideas and practices often follow these types and faith seems more like magic than a relationship. All of life becomes about accessing the powers and trying to control one’s world through various tricks and tips. Spirituality is often reduced to accomplishments and external signs or achievements. Who we are and how we appear to be, becomes more important than walking with one another. Conquering life becomes more important than covenant and community. They will walk with you, as long as your walk validates theirs.
5. The “God’s ways are higher than our ways’ friend: (Zophar)
“Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above – what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below, what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea.”
This person hasn’t taken the time in life to dig into the marrow matters. They rely on shallow and simplistic answers. They want to move on and move away from anything that is difficult, confusing or makes them feel bad. Other people’s sorrows are something to fix, so we all can just get on with our happy lives. They often fall for the prosperity gospel or superficial christianity, because it feels better or is more fun. These circles are not for intellectuals.
6. The “stop sinning” friend: (Zophar)
“Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear.”
This person sees our suffering directly connected to our sin. They can’t accept unmerited suffering and they likewise struggle in life to accept unmerited grace. These types gravitate to law based churches or demanding people. They thrive in systems that provide ways to prove ourselves better or more worthy than others. Perfectionist types are often found in these circles. They see the whole of life through a performance grid. To them acceptance is based on performance and the best are those who try the hardest and the losers are just religious collateral damage.
Here’s the audio of the sermon for those interested: “Healthy friendships are foundational to living a life of meaning and fruitfulness. God said at the dawn of human creation that is not good that we are alone and that all need helpers. (Genesis 2:18). Unfortunately we often hurt more than help one another in life. This sermon examines Job’s friends and the types of signs we can see in their words that will help us determine if we are building friendships that truly help or hurt us.” http://www.jacobswellspokane.com/?p=967