As I stated in my previous post, I have been struggling with how to mentor as a woman in my late twenties who has only been married four years and whose oldest child is only two–not much life experience. For the past few months, I have been doing my own study of the book of Job. As I said, this is my own study. I’ve not used a commentary yet, a book study, or a devotional. That’s all to say that my findings will likely have flaws.
My new hero in the faith is Elihu. Here is a man who is much younger than Job and the three friends but who, amazingly, is the only one not rebuked by God for his words. This man intrigues me, and I am becoming more and more amazed by him the more I read. I used to think that Elihu was just a man whom God had imparted with much wisdom, and I used him as yet another defense for all those who believe young people don’t have as much wisdom as older people (ironically, I now mainly agree with that belief).
Job 33 is now one of my favorite passages. It is when Elihu first really approaches Job. Elihu has been watching his friends go back and forth with each other about Job’s righteousness for quite some time. Elihu is forming an opinion during the discources, but even though he has seen sinfulness from both sides, he remains silent until all discources are finished. Why? Here is what I’ve discovered.
First, he understands he is young and these men are old. He believes in his heart they have more wisdom than he, and he trusts them to speak with that wisdom. He never loses his faith in them until they are finished, just as we should never assume our wisdom is greater than someone else’s.
Second, Elihu is a man of great humility. He says in verses 6 and 7, “Behold, I belong to God like you; I too have been formed out of the clay. Behold, no fear of me should terrify you, nor should my pressure weigh heavily on you” (emphasis mine). He knows he is just a man and should not be feared. He is admitting he could be wrong and that it is only God’s perception that is flawless. It is only God who should be feared.
Third, he wants to make sure he has listened carefully and fully understands before speaking. About a year ago, Bill, with my full support, approached a brother about a sin we had seen repeatedly in his life. We believed we were justified in pointing out this sin. We had prayed about it, watched carefully to make sure we were right, and had even heard bad reports about this brother from other members of the church. We felt we had enough evidence. Here’s how we approached him, though: we wrote him a letter. How foolish! We weren’t even bold enough to approach this brother face to face, which means we were throwing accusations in his face without even giving him a chance to explain himself. We didn’t care about what he had to say. We only cared about being right. Elihu, on the other hand, doesn’t jump to conclusions. He gives Job the benefit of the doubt and wants to make sure he fully understands what is going on. He shows true love to his friend. The same principle should apply with any conversations we have. We should be more concerned with listening than talking.
Fourth, and this really goes along with some former points, Elihu repeatedly asks Job to speak to correct him if needed, keeping with his humble approach. Elihu is not looking for the praise of men. He only cares about speaking what is right and speaks for God with trembling.
Fifth, in verse 32 Elihu says to Job, “If you have anything to say, answer me; speak, for I desire to justify you” (emphasis mine). Whereas Job’s three friends only wanted to hear Job say, “You are right. I am wrong,” Elihu only desires for Job to be restored to God. He wants Job to be right! What amazing love and discernment!
Though Job’s three friends in their arrogance seem unbelievable at times, I think Elihu is much more unbelievable in his humility. I can’t imagine having a heart that pure, a heart that cares nothing for my own glory but only for the glory of God, a heart that strives to lift others up with no concern for self. Elihu is the opposite of myself. I am a woman who loves to teach and have people tell me, “Well done! I have learned so much from you. Thank you. You changed my life!” I care more about my own good than the good of those around me.
Through the example of Elihu, I feel even more unqualified to mentor others, but I also know that God has given me experiences and trials that could be beneficial to others. As Job says, every good and bad thing is a gift from God that is an outpouring of His grace. Though we don’t deserve these gifts, He still calls us to use and share them. I have of late been praying for God’s grace to give me a heart like Elihu’s in loving others, and I have faith that He can and will.