Why is God Harder on Job’s Friends Than on Complaining Job?

Chris —  October 15, 2014

“Job stays married to God and throws dishes at him; the three friends have a polite non-marriage . . .” Peter Kreeft

Anyone who studies the biblical book of Job knows that in between Job saying, “blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:21)” and “I know you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted (Job 42:2),” Job complained bitterly. By his own admission, Job said things that were rash (Job 6:3).

Yet, at the end of the book, God told Job’s friends that his anger burned against them (Job 42:7). God tells Job’s friends  that their future depends on Job’s intercession on their behalf (Job 42:8).

So why did God view Job so much more favorably than Job’s friends?

Peter Kreeft helps us move toward an answer by pointing out that, unlike his friends, Job is directly concerned with his relationship with God. While Job’s friends are apathetic and indifferent:

Job sticks to God, retains intimacy, passion, and care, while the three friends are satisfied with correctness of words, “dead orthodoxy”. Job’s words do not accurately reflect God, as the three friends’ words do, but Job himself is in a true relationship to God, as the three friends are not: a relationship of heart and soul, life-or-death passion. No one can be truly related to God without life-or-death passion. To be related to God in a way that is only finite, partial, held back, or calculating is not truly to be related to God. God is everything or nothing. Job thinks God has let him down, so that in a sense God has become nothing to him. That is a mistake, but Job at least knows it must be all or nothing. God is infinite love, and the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. Job’s love for God is infected with hate, but the three friends’ love for God is infected with indifference. Job stays married to God and throws dishes at him; the three friends have a polite non-marriage, with separate bedrooms and separate vacations. The family that fights together stays together.

I wouldn’t say everything in quite the same way as Kreeft. Isn’t it a bit much to say that Job’s words are infected with “hate”? Yet, we can all agree that God despises mediocrity. He spits out that which is “luke warm (Revelation 3:16).”


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