Let’s fast-forward momentarily and face the music. Some of you who are reading these words have awfully sharp tongues. You say things that cut, but you couch your words in phrases that sound pious and even eloquent. They can sound super religious at times, but they’re hurtful and damaging. They imply much more than is actually said. It is here that self-control plays such a vital role. How valuable it is to think before we speak and then, even after giving our words careful thought, to measure their tone, their possible impact, their truthfulness. Zophar did none of the above. With reckless abandon he dropped his harsh words like depth charges. Though Job was a seasoned and mature man of God, they must have hurt as they exploded in his mind. Even for the strong, false accusations hurt.
Forming habits of self-restraint is an essential discipline. When receiving information about another, it’s best to ask the source: “How do you know that? Who told you? Is this information credible?” Those questions have a way of silencing people who tend to pass along damaging and exaggerated information. They assist in getting to the bottom of rumors. Furthermore, truth is given the opportunity to flourish, replacing lies. But you need to know that this kind of truth-talking comes with a price.
Throughout Zophar’s lecture, Job has been listening to what my mother used to call “a lot of palaver.” Just a lot of lip flapping—he’s been talking nonsense. What he’s saying against Job isn’t true, even though Zophar delivers his words poetically and eloquently. Job has patiently endured, but he refuses to let those words slide by.
I’ve heard it said that, no matter what, when false accusations are made, you just sit quietly and say nothing; God will defend you. There are some occasions when that may be appropriate. Not always. I often call to mind a motto from the American Revolution: “Trust in God but keep your powder dry.” Wise counsel! If your reputation is being ruined by lies, if your company is going down the tubes because of false accusations, if your church is being destroyed and demoralized because of wrong information from lying lips, there are times it is necessary to step up and set the record straight. Truth has a way of silencing lies.