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“It’s not fair!” I’ve long lost count of hope many times I’ve heard those words from my children. I’ve probably said or thought similar things even more often. There is something in the human psyche that desperately wants fairness, even if we know we will never fully receive it.

The world would be a lot simpler if things were always fair—if the good guys always won and the bad guys always lost. But we know that things aren’t always that easy.

Job’s friends operated from this simplistic worldview. To them, the solution to Job’s affliction was incredibly simple. He had incurred suffering through his sin and confession was the key to restoration. Bildad’s first speech in chapter 8 highlights this simplicity at its finest.

Bildad was frustrated with Job’s posturing (vv. 1–2). He had sat with and listened to Job long enough. It was time for him to quit his self-righteous posturing. He must admit that God does not pervert justice (v. 3) and thereby confess that his sin had invited his affliction. Job had gone too far in suggesting that God has treated him unfairly.

If his children were dead, they had died because of their sin (v. 4). If Job would but confess his sin, God would restore his fortunes. It was all very simple.

Where Eliphaz had rooted his conviction in some form of divine revelation, Bildad rooted his in tradition (vv. 8–10). History bore witness to the truth of his worldview. God’s people throughout the ages had affirmed what he was now teaching.

The wicked may temporarily prosper, as Job had for a time, but their prosperity would soon fade (vv. 11–15). The godly, on the other hand, would flourish unhindered (vv. 16–19). In short, if Job was blameless, God would not reject him. The godly would only ever prosper (vv. 20–22).

Bildad was like all who reduce their faith to its simplest form. He could answer any question posed to him and sound theologically impressive while doing so. There was one problem: His wisdom was deeply flawed. He was wrong because he did not account for the full truth about how God deals with his people. He no doubt claimed to speak the truth—but failed to speak the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

The truth is, apart from undeserved suffering, there would be no gospel. The gospel relies on the undeserved suffering of an innocent Saviour. Apart from such substitutionary suffering, there would be no grace. Bildad’s worldview hopelessly failed to take truth into account.

John tells us that, when he came to earth, Jesus was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He never wavered on the truth, but always spoke it in a graceful way. Bildad failed on both counts. He was angry and irritable with Job and, when he spoke, failed to speak the truth. His counsel was ultimately useless.

Christians are called to “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). We can only fulfil this responsibility if, like Jesus, we are full of grace and truth. We must know the truth and be prepared to share it in a gracious way if we will benefit those whom God calls us to patiently admonish, encourage, and help.

As you meditate on Job 8 this morning, ask God, as he gives you opportunity to patiently admonish, encourage, and help others, to do so with grace and truth.