Read Job 4:8
As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.
• Is your view of God limited by your own box of beliefs?
• It's tempting to believe in a just world--that good things only happen to good people and bad things only happen to bad people. What should we do when bad things happen to good people?
• When we ignore truths about God, we limit our relationship with him. Do you believe this? (Please explain.)
As Eliphaz continued his speech, he presented a delightfully appealing, yet woefully wrong view of the world. His words in the form of logic statements would simply be: "Good things happen to good people," and "Bad things happen to bad people."
Each of these statements is half correct. Good things do indeed happen to good people.
Unfortunately, in this fallen world, bad things happen as well. Similarly, while it is true that sin produces harmful consequences, God's grace and mercy allow for good things to come to those who choose not to follow him. As we are told elsewhere in Scripture, God allows rain to fall on the just and the unjust. We also read that He wants for all to be saved and for no one to perish.
Eliphaz's words signal two spiritual dangers. First his formula condemns Job, the very man he's trying to comfort. By his reckoning, all of Job's losses are evidence that he is not as righteous as he appears.
The second danger goes even greater. Eliphaz's beliefs have essentially contained God in a box, limiting Him to responding only to human behavior and to doing so with only rewards or punishments.
This box ignores the fact that God has a plan and purpose for each of us. It ignores His abundant mercy and grace. It ignores His love so great that He tests, disciplines, and molds us to be more like His Son each day.
In our day, we are blessed to be able to get to know God through His Word. Job and Eliphaz did not have such a joyous treasure. Yet even with the Bible, we may each discover times in our lives when we have put God in a box.
I (Pam) remember a time when my husband and I were trying to decide whether to move to Nebraska. With four small children, was it really wise to move to the middle of the country where we didn't know a soul and our family was so far away? We prayed about this decision for many weeks. At one point, I became almost paralyzed by uncertainty and anxiety about whether it was God's will for us to move. One day while I was praying about this decision, God reminded me that He was much bigger than our decision about whether to move. I was humbled as I realized that I had placed God in a box, thinking that God's plans and purposes hinged on our decision, and if we decided wrong, He couldn't handle it.
As you work to overcome the hurts in your own life, take some time to consider whether you have put God in a box. How will seeing God as the all-powerful Creator and Savior change you and your life?
Lord, sometimes it's hard to remember that bad things do happen to good people in this fallen world. Help me to be sensitive to how such thoughts limit my view of You. Amen.