Jump Start # 3209
Job 4:4 “Your words have helped the tottering to stand, and you have strengthened feeble knees.”
Our verse today are the words of Eliphaz, one of the friends of Job. He is pointing out the good that Job has done in the past. He is commending him as one who has helped others. And, what we find here is the powerful impact that our words can have on others. Feeble knees and tottering describes one who is just about to fall down. I’ve seen this physically. An older person who ought to be using a walker decides not to. They totter and immediately you reach out to keep them from falling.
But here, the weak knees are not physical knees, but rather, weak hearts. It was the words that Job spoke that made a difference. And, this is a great reminder for us. The little encouragement we give can make a big difference in the lives of others. Our words can keep someone from falling. Our words can be the very thing that keeps someone stable.
We live in times where there are many slippery places and unsound words. The world pushes us. Satan tries to pull the rug out from under us. Tottering and feeble may well describe many of us after the past two years. It doesn’t take much to knock over someone who is tottering. Feeble knees doesn’t fit the Ephesian description of standing firm, as God wants us to be.
Some lessons for us:
First, life and death, as the wisdom literature defines our words, are powerful. We must be careful what we say. People remember. Most of us who have some age and miles on us can still hear our moms saying things to us. Those words stuck. This is why James tells us to be slow to speak. Speaking without thinking will get you into all kinds of trouble. A person can say that they are sorry, but the words have been aired. People remember. The Bible equates encouragement as “Building up.” That’s what Job was doing. His words helped the tottering and they strengthened the feeble. Choice words. Careful words. The right words. Author Mark Twain said that he could live a whole month on one compliment.
Second, others notice. That’s the context of our passage. Eliphaz knew about what Job had said to others. He knew the good that Job had done. And, that’s just the way encouragement works. We often go to help a person but in the process others notice. They hear about it. They are encouraged because you encouraged. Your words were noticed. People saw the good that came from your words. The feeble and the tottering were strengthened.
This is a great reminder for all of us. Do our kids hear us complaining all the time? What about our conversations with brethren? Negative? Never content? Never thankful? You wonder why some people are Christians, because all one hears from their lips are things that they are unhappy about. Not Job. Eliphaz knew the good that Job ha spoken.
Third, around us are those who are needing strengthening. Knees are feeble and their stance is shaky and tottering. Some get this way because they do not stand firm in the Lord. The latest fad, the lies of the serpent have gotten them shaky. They do not know what they believe. When a strong wind of trouble blows, they are likely to fall down. Others have been hit with all kinds of problems. Health issues. Deaths in the family. Trouble in their marriage. Headaches at work. They are wavering. They are about to collapse under all the pressure of troubles. They need reassurance. They need to be reminded of Scriptures. They need to know that a spiritual family supports and loves them. And, the best way they can know these things is from the words that we say. “Your words,” is what Eliphaz was noticing. It wasn’t the cookies Job made. It wasn’t the sheep Job raised. It was his words that made a difference. So often, we are looking for the big thing we can do, but many times it’s simply being there and knowing the right things to say.
When someone is tottering, they may feel ashamed and embarrassed. They need to know that they are not the only one to experience what they are going through. They need to know about others who have gone through those long valleys and made it safely to the other side. They need to be reminded that God remains on the throne. He’s always there.
Fourth, it is very ironic that Eliphaz would recognize what Job had done in the past and within a few pages of the book of Job, he would turn very critical and mean towards Job. What he saw in others, he would not do himself. And, how true that is for us. We notice someone forgiving another person, but we stand with arms crossed, refusing to forgive. We notice the good that kind words do, but we only speak harsh and unpleasant words. We come with our radar gun pointing at others, ready to condemn and ready to assign judgment. The words we say in the time of death can strengthen or they can crush a hurting heart. The words we say when someone comes back as a prodigal can make all the difference or they can make the person wonder why he even came back.
Some are quick to point out how Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites. What they forget is that the Lord had spent nearly three years with these closed hearts. He had shown them the power of God, but they kept their eyes closed. He had taught them the wonderful words of grace, but their hearts remained silent and indifferent. This was not the Lord’s first encounter with them. Hypocrites is not the first thing He said to them.
Think about what you can say to someone when you see them this Sunday. What would you say to someone you have not met before? What would you say to someone who hasn’t been there in a long time? What would you say to the preacher? What would you say to one of the shepherds? How about a teenager?
Your words can be the very thing that strengthens the feeble and tottering. Your words can be the very reason that someone stays with the Lord and continues on. Your words.