Compassion vs. Empty Nothings


By this point in the book, Job has heard quite a bit from his friends. His friends have repeatedly told Job in different ways that his situation is somehow a result of some hidden or unconfessed sin. Job is reaching his limit on these accusations. Therefore, in Job 21:34, he said, “How then will you comfort me with empty nothings? There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood.”

What is Job saying here?

First, the words of his friends are vanity. The words are a bunch of hot air and empty breath. In addition to these ideas, the word for empty nothings can also mean an idol. Perhaps, the words of Job’s friends are simply a parroting of their religion, which has become an idol for them.

Second, Job has taken the answers of his friends as falsehood. But, the Hebrew word used here isn’t so much about truth or lie as it is about fraud, disloyalty, infidelity, and unfaithfulness. Job feels that his friends breached the fidelity of their relationship by their empty words and constant accusations.

But, unlike the friends of Job, we have a friend that sticks closer than brother. Jesus.

What is different about Jesus? Why are his words received differently than the words of Job’s friends?


Six times the gospels record Jesus having compassion for someone. The Greek word means compassion, pity, or deep empathy. But, the word has to do with the motion coming from the bowels or deep in the gut.

Unlike Job’s friends, when Jesus came upon someone who was oppressed, diseased, or suffering, Jesus sided with them. He got into their shoes in a very real way.

Hebrews 2:14, 17-18 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he [Jesus] himself partook of the same things…Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful high priest in service to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

Jesus experienced everything that any of us experience. And, it was those experiences that made it possible for Jesus to come along side us and show compassion instead of attacking and accusing us like Job’s friends.

Compassion was required for Jesus to be a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God. And, as we are called to priests, participating in the ministry of reconciliation, we need to walk in compassion the way Jesus did. Our first response needs to be compassion, to come along side the oppressed and suffering, instead of searching to find ways that they are wrong and the cause of their own dreadful situation.

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