Online Bible Commentary
Keeping Our Integrity
Job 6:21 Now you too have proved to be of no help; you see something dreadful and are afraid. 22 Have I ever said, 'Give something on my behalf, pay a ransom for me from your wealth, 23 deliver me from the hand of the enemy, ransom me from the clutches of the ruthless'? 24 "Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong. 25 How painful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove? 26 Do you mean to correct what I say, and treat the words of a despairing man as wind? 27 You would even cast lots for the fatherless and barter away your friend. 28 "But now be so kind as to look at me. Would I lie to your face? 29 Relent, do not be unjust; reconsider, for my integrity is at stake. 30 Is there any wickedness on my lips? Can my mouth not discern malice? (NIV)
Job is in the midst of great suffering. His friend, Eliphaz, comes to him and offers advice about Job’s situation. Eliphaz tells Job that he is suffering from the penalty of his own sin. But, in Job’s case, he is suffering, not because of sin but because God is testing him. So the advice is off target and does more harm than good. Job responds to Eliphaz’s advice in this passage.
Job tells Eliphaz that he has been of “no help” (v. 21a). Eliphaz has accused Job of sinning but he has offered no proof, no specifics. His accusation is baseless. Eliphaz came upon a dreadful situation and in his haste to make sense of things he reacted without thinking (v.21b). He assumed that Job’s problems were a result of Job’s sin, when Job knew better.
Job is hurt and responds in anger by telling Eliphaz that he did not ask for his help (vv. 22-23). He challenges Eliphaz to give him proof of his sin. (v.24). He says he knows the truth often hurts, but Eliphaz hasn’t proven anything (v.25). Job accuses Eliphaz of calling him a liar, disregarding the words of a suffering man (v.26). Job’s anger escalates as he accuses Eliphaz of being so mean that he would cast lots for orphans and sell out his own friend (v.27).
Job then asks Eliphaz to look him in the eye so that he could see that Job was not lying (v. 28a). He challenges him with the question “Would I lie to your face?” (v. 28b). Job implores Eliphaz to stop accusing him of lying, saying his “integrity is at stake” (v.29). Job valued his integrity more than life itself. He was determined not to be disobedient to God in any way, including lying. Job challenged Eliphaz to find any wickedness or malice coming from him (v.30).
Job is essentially telling him to put his money where his mouth is. He has been offended by Eliphaz’s charge questioning his integrity without proof. Perhaps the advice was well intended, but it was thoughtless, and it backfired.
May this be a lesson to us all. We must be careful in giving advice to others, especially the sick and the suffering. Most often they are not looking for answers, but just someone to listen and be there for them. They are looking for compassion, and a friend. They are looking for comfort and hope, but not false hope. It is not the time to accuse them of bringing their problems upon themselves, even if they did. It is certainly not the time to accuse them of lying, especially without proof. Their sickness, their hurting, their suffering is their own personal experience and only they know the extent of such. So believe them and give them the help that they need.
Secondly, we must never accuse anyone of lying without undeniable proof. Counselors tell us that when someone falsely accuses someone else of lying it is likely because the accuser himself is a liar, and so automatically assumes that others are as well. It is a serious offense to question the integrity of others, especially if they have proven themselves to be people of high integrity. If they have the integrity and the credentials to prove their knowledge of what they are saying, only a fool would question them or accuse them of lying, without proof.
Job was a man of God and had proven his integrity over and over again. He had earned respect and was offended when he did not receive it. He was just in feeling the way he did. Even though he could not keep his temper as he should, he knew he was right and he kept his integrity.