Then Bildad the Shuhite replied: “How long will you say such things? Your words are a blustering wind. Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right? When your children sinned against him, He gave them over to the penalty of their sin.” Job 8:1-4
My condensed modern translation of what Bildad is saying to his buddy Job:
“Dude, you’re making no sense. The reason God is grinding you and your family is because you all deserve it.”
I often hear that I need to follow the “plain meaning” of the text. But passages like this remind me that some discernment is in order. Bildad, as well as Job’s other “friends”, speak clearly, consistently and emphatically. It turns out that they also speak wrongly – the calamity that befell Job and his family had nothing to do with their sin. Job’s suffering was not God’s judgment at all. In fact, it provided a context to demonstrate God’s redemptive power. It is only through digging further to understand the purpose and context of this passage that its true meaning comes to light.
As Paul says in Romans,
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
I need to respond to God’s Word with my mind as well as my heart. It is through the renewing of my “mind’ that I am able to discern what God’s will is!
Left to my own sinful desires, I would use the subtlety and ambiguity in your Word to make it say what I wanted it to say. I do not want to conform to this world. Transform me through the renewing of my mind so that I may test and approve what your perfect will is.