Eliphaz, like many Bible teachers and many the believers who follow them, is under the misconception that people who do bad things only and always only have bad things happen to them, while people who are good and “Godly” will only and always ever have good things happen to them. Really? What about Jesus? What about Paul? What about all of the Apostles who were martyred and lived under persecution? Sometimes those who live apart from God to reap the consequences. Sometimes they live the life of a king. Sometimes those who live for the Lord endure trials and tribulations which James tells us count all as joy. Sometimes they live in peace, rest, and blessing. But there is no simple one-to-one equation of good gets good, bad gets bad. When we are experiencing what we perceive to be bad things, we need to ask ourselves if they are the consequences of our own action, or if it is a test from the Lord to build our faith Like He did with Abraham and so many others. When we are experiencing what we perceive to be good things, we need to check ourselves to see if we have a sense of “I earned this, I worked for this” versus “this is a blessing from God, I don’t deserve it, thank you Lord.”
Before I throw this out there I want to say that I’m not trying to overly spiritualize these verses. This observation isn’t my attempt to communicate the primary point or application of these verses. It’s just something that occurred to me as I was reading them. If they are of the Lord and them bless you, awesome. It seems to me that many Christians, myself included at least one time in my walk with the Lord, have isolated themselves from the world in the name of being holy. There is no question we are called to being set apart. In Deuteronomy God commands his people to “be holy for I am holy.” Peter echos this in his epistles to Christians. However, bring holy does not mean isolating ourselves in our own little Christian-culture bubble and having nothing whatsoever to do with the world. Paul addresses the distinction in 1 Americans, er, I mean Corinthians when discussing sexual immorality he tells clarifies for them that when he first told them to avoid sexually immoral people, he meant those within the body of Christ, not those outside in the world. Otherwise there would be no opportunity to witness and lead people to Jesus. The Church has cut off many peoples by letting those who are already “in” in. It has set its nest on high to be safe from the reach of harm, of the world. This is the exact opposite of the example we have from Jesus. Jesus was set apart from the world, and set apart to God to go into the world and save many people alive. When we cut ourselves off from the world we also forfeit our lives, the abundant lives that Jesus came to give us. If we don’t cry out the stones and beams we have built around our selves will. I don’t know about you but I’d rather not have a rock sit in for me.
1 Peter 3:15
I love apologetics. I love discussing God’s word with believers and non-believers. I think that the (legitimate) ministries that exist to provide a logical, reasoned, and in some cases scientific defense of the faith are fantastic. It’s important to always be prepared to make a defense. But what has been lacking in my own life at times, and what I think is missing in many people who call themselves “apologists” who seem to do nothing but argue about the word, is the whole point of this verse. It isn’t about “anyone who asks”. It’s about “anyone who asks for a reason FOR THE HOPE THAT IS IN YOU.” Too many of us are the watchmen on the wall with arrows and spears ready to fire and hurl at those who would attack the fortress of our faith, the word of God. Granted Paul calls the word of God the sword of the Spirit, and that Hebrews calls it a double-edged sword. A sword is both an offensive and defensive weapon. Yes, we are in a war, a battle. But that battle isn’t against flesh and blood. The need to give a defense is not the need to clobber our “opponent”. The need to give a defense (with gentleness and respect I might add) is because someone else sees hope in us, not because we are an enemy. Too often we make our defense without gentleness, without respect, and without any hope in us. Too often we are almost eager for a fight, ready to show just how wrong someone is, then the reality is that they need Jesus. Be ready to give an answer, to make a defense. Just make sure it is because your hope is shining brightly as a city set on a hill, a lamp on its lamp stand, a light shining before men that they may glorify your Father in Heaven.