Do you ever feel like your closest friends ignore you; that your trust with the deepest questions returns no results? If so, I propose a question: have you checked to see if you’ve left a place for them to stand next to you?
This passage states that Job’s three friends ceased to answer him. It wasn’t that they didn’t love him, and we know this is true because of previous chapters. They had been going back and forth for a long time; what they came to realize, was that he no longer had the ability to learn from sources besides himself.
When we defend our position to the end (Job 35:16) it leaves no room for outside involvement. They can’t even argue with us, because we have things so worked out. That’s the point, right? Make sure there can be no case against us. Eliminate all chances of wrong on our part. Claim to have done our best.
Even if we are completely right in what we say, we are never justified in saying it. Only God can acquit one of wrong (Mark 2:7) and it is better for others to praise us, rather than ourselves. (Proverbs 27:2) By taking a position of defense, there are times when even our closest friends are warded from our side. In effort to prove our innocence, we actually cast support away.
The danger here is two-fold:
- Our friends will pull away, unable to be close to us as they desire. I have been on both sides of this, and neither is conducive to a working relationship . Relationships have to be built on trust; spending time second-guessing doesn’t help strengthen the bond between two individuals.
We are left to fight battles on our own, which reduces our ability to win. (Leviticus 26:8) By casting off the support of others, we isolate ourselves. This can be a frightening thing for a caring person to watch, but imagine how it would feel to be the one left standing there!
I believe it is very important to examine areas of our lives for this trap. It starts small, but can quickly take hold of your communication and influence others around you. I must admit: there was a time when I was not sure my closest friends would stand and fight for me. This belief, having nothing to do with their own actions, almost cost me one of the most influential situations of my life. Please take time to see if you are doing this; don’t fight the battles alone!