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The Lord is using traumatic trials to help Job gain a greater understanding of God and to grow Job into a more faith-filled man of God.
Ultimately, the Lord is Job’s “heavenly sandpaper.”
And no matter how tough Job’s tragedies, they will not take his life.
In fact, honor—double honor—is just around the corner.
For the Bible says, “… whoever heeds correction is honored”
(Proverbs 13:18).
Like Job, we all need a little “heavenly sandpaper” to help smooth over the “rough edges.”
But those who appoint themselves to be our personal heavenly sandpaper can leave us worn down … emotionally rubbed raw.
Without a doubt, God uses our close relationships to teach us the truth about ourselves—the truth about our rough edges.
But rather than wearing us down, He builds us up so that we can become all He created us to be.
Rather than leaving us discouraged, He helps us feel encouraged and causes us to change.
Clearly, constructive criticism can reveal specific areas in our lives that need to be refined.
But when you seek to give “constructive” criticism, be certain that God has directed your words—that they are carefully chosen and spoken in truth and with love.
But be aware, too much coarse sanding will be resented and result in being rejected.
Prideful criticism will always be rejected.
However, if the criticism of you is incorrect, be calm—not curt or critical.
The book of Proverbs makes this point plain …
“A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them”
(Proverbs 14:3).
A. Key Verse to Memorize
Job’s three finger-pointing friends speak words that are terribly distasteful—words too difficult to stomach.
Rather than their conversation being filled with grace, they are filled with faultfinding.
The unholy trio is determined to get Job to own up to his supposed guilt, while Job is just as determined to maintain his innocence.
This negative approach does nothing to encourage positive relationships.
People get stuck in a stalemate—and no one wins.
So whether you give or receive constructive criticism, the Bible says …
(Colossians 4:6)
Why salt?
Known as “white gold” in ancient times, salt has always been highly valued.
Previously used as money for commercial trade, today salt is used:
(1) to season food, which enhances flavor,
(2) to clean cuts and abrasions, which acts as a disinfectant,
(3) to melt icy roads and sidewalks, which prevents different kinds of accidents, and
(4) to preserve food, which without refrigeration keeps it from quickly spoiling.
When the Bible says, “Let your conversation be … seasoned with salt,” envision the “salt” of your words being used wisely …
• To produce enhanced enjoyment in all your relationships
• To purify your wounded relationships by speaking healing, grace-filled words
• To prevent the accidental “slip of the tongue” and the use of caustic, critical words
• To preserve your reputation and keep it from being spoiled
Scripture reminds us …
(Matthew 5:13)
B. Key Passage to Read
James 3:1–12
Job feels the piercing power of the tongue unleashed by his three friends.
But another man stands waiting in the wings for a chance to speak … to use his own tongue in an attempt to impart truth.
Elihu (Hugh for short)—the youngest of Job’s visitors—is angry with all of them.
None of Job’s friends finds a way to refute him, yet they all find ways to condemn him.
And he’s upset at Job’s implication that God would be unjust.
Oh, the power of the tongue!
Isn’t it interesting how small objects can possess great power?
The power of the tongue seems far out of proportion to its size.
A large horse is controlled by a small bit in its mouth …
an enormous ship is controlled by a small rudder.
James 3:5 says …
“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.
Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”
We can learn much from James 3:3–12.
The tongue, though little, can be …
• Powerful—like a small bit, turning a huge horse., v. 3
• Forceful—like a small rudder, steering a massive ship., v. 4
• Dangerous—like a tiny spark, igniting a great forest fire., v. 5
• Devastating—like a searing fire, burning the whole body., v. 6
• Corrupting—like an evil force, instigated by hell, v. 6
• Untameable—like a restless evil, full of deadly poison, v. 8
• Contaminating—like a two-faced hypocrite, both praising and cursing others., v. 10
• Distasteful—like a flowing spring, embittered by salt water, v. 11
• Contradictory—like a fig tree bearing olives
—like a grapevine bearing figs, v. 12
Based on the Bible, this fact is true:
Polluted water and pure water cannot pour out of the same stream.
if praise to God and criticism of others flow from the same mouth,
the conflicting inconsistencies reveal that something is desperately wrong with the source
—the heart is impure,
for Luke 6:45 (ESV) reveals, “out of the abundance of the heart” the mouth speaks.
C. How to Stop Growing a Crop of Criticism
Elihu (Hugh) starts out with the voice of reason amidst a torrent of emotion.…
“So listen to me, you men of understanding.
Far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong.…
It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice” (Job 34:10, 12).
While Hugh eloquently espouses truths about the character of God, he—like the others—eventually grows a crop of criticism where Job is concerned.
He wrongly assesses the cause of Job’s multiple tragedies.
“Is there anyone like Job, who drinks scorn like water?
He keeps company with evildoers; he associates with the wicked” (Job 34:7–8).
Hugh pressures Job to repent and proclaims: “Now you are laden with the judgment due the wicked; judgment and justice have taken hold of you” (Job 36:17).
But the criticism will stop … when God speaks.
And, oh, will He speak!
In truth, you can grow a “crop of criticism” even if you usually are not a critical person.
These “crops” can suddenly sprout up through circumstances in which you cast a critical eye or bend a critical ear.
With the source of your criticism rooted in resentment toward others,
you eagerly point out their flaws.
You may not recognize when you are being overly critical,
but God does … and so do those who know you best.
The Bible even says …
“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.”
(Proverbs 16:2)
If you desire to quit growing a crop of criticism, first pray that you will see your “seeds” of criticism from God’s perspective.
Then ask yourself:
• What causes me to become critical?
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