- Job 32:1-37:24
Now that Job's three friends—Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar—have finally run out of things to say to Job, we are introduced to a young man named Elihu who has been present throughout the dialogue thus far, but is just now choosing to speak. Elihu accuses the other three of condemning Job despite their inability to prove him wrong, and then he accuses Job of being self-righteous and failing to recognize that GOD often uses suffering to teach people lessons and grow them.
Sometimes it is necessary for young people to correct or instruct those who are much older than themselves. Young people must be very careful in these situations, however, to demonstrate an attitude of humility and respect for those who have lived much longer than they have.
Every person—young and old—has a responsibility to do what is right, to the best of their ability. GOD has given each of us an understanding and knowledge that, when properly applied, leads to wisdom. While older people have more life experience, they make mistakes just like young people do and therefore sometimes a young person must correct or bring this to the older person's attention. We can learn some key lessons from Elihu's example:
- It's important to be passionate about truth. Elihu got angry because he felt Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar and Job had each spoken inaccurately. Elihu held back for a while but then, when he had his turn, he said what needed to be said. GOD wants us to be zealous for His name. He also expects us to love people. Arguing just to prove we can win is not loving. Our motives must be godly in nature.
- We must always show respect to those older than us. Elihu said:
“I am young in years, and you are old; that is why I was fearful, not daring to tell you what I know. 7 I thought, ‘Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom.’ 8 But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding. 9 It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right.
(Job 32:6b-9 NIV)
Elihu waited his turn to speak, in order to allow those older than him to teach wisdom first. They failed, so he spoke his mind after they had their turn.
- When someone else is talking, we need to give them our full attention. We might learn something. Regardless, demonstrating that we are focused on listening shows that we value the person who is speaking and want to hear what they say. On the flip side, failing to demonstrate that we are fully listening while someone is talking shows a lack of respect and concern about the speaker and their message. This is why it is really important for us to avoid interrupting someone else and, when we do interrupt, to apologize. Elihu demonstrated this:
11 I waited while you spoke, I listened to your reasoning; while you were searching for words, 12 I gave you my full attention...
(Job 32:11-12 NIV)
- It is reasonable to expect others to give us the same respect we showed them by listening quietly to all that we have to say. Elihu said to Job:
1 “But now, Job, listen to my words; pay attention to everything I say. 2 I am about to open my mouth; my words are on the tip of my tongue. 3 My words come from an upright heart; my lips sincerely speak what I know. 4 The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. 5 Answer me then, if you can; stand up and argue your case before me. 6 I am the same as you in God’s sight; I too am a piece of clay. 7 No fear of me should alarm you, nor should my hand be heavy on you.
(Job 33:1-7 NIV)
A young person can gain much respect and build a strong reputation by interacting properly with those who are older. Listen carefully when they speak. Consider their thoughts carefully. Respond respectfully. Don't be afraid to correct when necessary, but always be humble, recognizing there could be something you are missing.