Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were older than he.
In the story of Job, most people feel bad for him because of how much physical suffering he endures. He loses everything, most of his family is killed and he’s covered in painful sores. But one of the biggest things he has to endure is his so-called friends. When they hear about how bad things are going for him, four friends come to comfort Job and give him “wise” counsel. Mostly, what they do is tell him that all of his suffering is his own fault, and that his sins have caused the situation.
Job does very well for most of the story, glorifying God and casting no blame at Him. Instead, he merely prays for the suffering to end. And his friends blame him some more.
But not Elihu. The youngest of the group, Elihu sits by and listens, waiting for his turn to speak. Eventually, Job does make a big mistake, portraying himself as completely blameless, and demanding for God to give him an answer about why all of this is happening.
That’s when Elihu sees an opening. He puts Job in his place (for several chapters), and the others sit by and listen to him. Why do you think that is?
Unlike so many younger people, Elihu used his ears instead of his mouth. He showed respect to those who were older than he was, and he didn’t interrupt, no matter how much he disagreed with what was being said. Finally, when he heard Job justifying himself and placing demands on God, he had enough and spoke up. And because he had been so respectful, and because he has listened to the others’ words, they basically “gave him the floor.” His words must have been spot-on, because right after Elihu finishes, God does give Job his answer – and puts him in his place!
How are you with showing respect to others? Do you feel the need to say everything that pops into your mind? Or are you content with letting others have their say, listening to what’s said and then waiting for an opportunity to say something? When we respect others opinions, and especially the opinions of those who are older than we are, it’s far more likely that they’ll be willing to listen once our turn comes up.
This week, try using your ears twice as much as your mouth. Show respect to those older than you and wait for a good opportunity to say what’s on your mind. Trust the Lord that your opinions will be valued, and don’t force your way into conversations.
Reflection copyright © 2016 Doug DeBolt.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.