Good Friends – Bad Advice

Ever go to a friend for advice only to end up more confused and discouraged than when you showed up? That’s pretty much what happened in the story of Job.  The first few chapters of the book recount what can accurately be described as possibly the most devastating “worst case scenario” of all time. Unaware that he was the subject of a spiritual face-off between God and Satan (Job 1:8-12), this righteous man (1:1) lost all of his property, most of his servants, his house, and all ten of his children in a single day. (1:13-20) His health, also targeted by Satan, quickly deteriorated a short time later. (2:1-8) Crushed by her own understandable suffering, even Job’s wife turned her back on him, urging him to “curse God and die.” (2:9)

But the misery didn’t stop there.  By the middle of the book, Satan altered his tactics and began targeting Job’s trust in God in a more subtle form. His friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, arrived on the scene with the genuine intent to offer support and encouragement to their troubled companion. But it wasn’t long until the ‘friendly fire’ on Job’s faith commenced through a series of conversations that questioned Job’s faith, (8:1-6) insinuated his gross sinfulness (4:7) and implied that he was the root cause for his own suffering. (22:3-4).

Their advice seemed sound from their point of view, but they were looking through the clouded lens of their own cultural beliefs and limited intellect rather than seeking the clarity that comes from God. This lack of vision caused their flawed counsel to hurt their friend far more than it helped him.

In a similar way, Peter expressed genuine desire to protect Jesus from the suffering that he would soon endure at the hands of the Jewish leaders and Roman authorities. (Matt.16:21) Knowing the spiritual necessity of his death (1 John 2:2), Jesus rebuked Peter, saying “Get behind me, Satan.” (Matt 16:23) Christ’s response reminds people that difficulties are not always what they appear to be and even a sincere desire to help can be manipulated by the devil to lead us away from the plan of God. Before accepting the counsel of others, it is imperative to sift any advice through the truth of scripture  and exercise discernment, knowing that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12)

14 thoughts on “Good Friends – Bad Advice

  1. My previous response was to Job’s story instead of your blog. Oops. It’s disturbing that a good bit of the friends advice is good theology, just a little twisted & graceless. Satan works within the system. Great blog once again.

  2. A lot of questions are asked & when God finally answers, He asks 78 questions of his own. Jesus often answered questions with a question too. I read a devotional that said the best answer is when we experience God’s presence. Then we are humbled, awed & our faith is strengthened. Out best response them is to worship.

  3. Thanks for this post Karen. This gave me a thought that GOOD friends are NOT necessarily GODLY friends. Always wise to be in tune with the Holy Spirit and share with those whom he directs to.

  4. I have learned to take all of my problems to the Lord first and pray about it a lot before sharing or asking for any counsel from a friend.
    I tend to be pretty rooted in my own thinking but when I do listen to friends they often have good intentions paved with poor planning or no thoughts to what is spiritually acceptable.

    1. God is always our best counselor, but I know that He has spoken clearly through the voice of others too. I think we have to be careful when we seek advice, but not rule out the wisdom that can come through a trusted friend. Thanks for stopping by Deanna.

  5. Thanks Karen for this well-timed and important reminder. Yes, it’s tough when you ask someone for advice and it turns out to be off the mark. I loved the way you brought Job’s story into your theme. Your ability to tie in current situations with God’s spiritual lesson. Your post always encourages me to grow stronger in my walk with Christ. GBY, your family, and friends.

    1. Thanks Walter… for reading, and for always offering such wonderful encouragement! May God bless you richly as you pursue His heart!

  6. I have had many moments of pain inflicted on me from Well meaning, would be prophets who are not aware of what God is lovingly unfolding in my life…
    Perhaps even more cringe-worthy, I have had painful moments of realizing I was in fact someone else’s Eliaphaz… over the years my counsel to good friends has shifted from “here’s what you need to do” to “I’m here for you”
    Returning to Gods sovereignty again and again is the only way to keep centered.
    As always, another great reflection in your elegant style. Thank you

    1. What great advice Dawna! We can probably all think of times when we offered poor advice to others motivated out of our own hurt or lack of understanding. How much better to just be present and offer encouragement instead of our limited insight! I soooo appreciate you, Dawna!!

  7. Great post. God’s plan is usually very different then our own. Trusting Him, that He will make all things work together for our good, is sometimes difficult, but always rewarding. He knows what He’s doing!

    Glad I stopped by. Found you at the ‘Word Filled Wednesday’ link-up.

    1. Yeah, that’s the problem, isn’t it? We want to trust our flawed plan instead of His… and that’s especially true when things turn out differently than we hoped. Thanks Cathy!

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