We have all been hurt by people at one time or another. For some, the pain is a distant memory; for others, the pain still radiates even though it happened long ago; and then there are some dealing with a very current hurt. We can only be hurt by people when we make ourselves vulnerable to them. We could try avoiding the hurt by avoiding relationships, but God created us to be relational. Many of us have been at the receiving end of sabotage, gossip, stealing or whatever. It’s a painful place to be and often a lonely one. You can try to defend yourself against them or keep silent, but often there is little satisfaction either way. Sometimes there is a deep urge that wants them to feel the same pain they have caused. How many times have you relied on the old adage, “what goes around, comes around” just to get you past the intensity of your frustration? Have you ever hoped you would be there to watch when “it” finally comes around? Have you ever been given the rare opportunity to see them “get theirs” and enjoyed it?
This year in BSF, we are studying the Life of Moses. Moses had a dramatic life. His older sister Miriam helped save him from death as a baby and as an adult he was used by God to save the people of Israel out of slavery from Egypt. Interestingly, Moses never wanted the position of leadership that God had called him to. Not only did he feel inadequate, but he would soon learn that the people he would be leading were stubborn, ungrateful and selfish. Imagine having to not only lead, but love such a group that probably numbered over 2 million. Moses’ situation was peculiar in that while he and his brother and sister were all leaders of God’s people, he held the highest position over his older siblings. This leads us into the situation that caught my attention and as you can probably guess, it has to do with betrayal.
In the book of Numbers, chapter 12, we are told that Miriam, along with Aaron, starts to complain about Moses. The way the incident is described, it seems apparent that Miriam is the ring leader and their issue is Moses’ position of authority over them. She specifically points out in her argument against him that God talked through her and Aaron, too – so what made Moses any more important than them? It’s interesting that they had such a problem with this considering they witnessed all of the issues Moses dealt with in his thankless and painful job, but that is the way envy works – it lacks reason. Moses could have said a million things in response to them. He could have even rightfully asked God to intervene, but the Bible is clear that Moses does not answer Miriam and Aaron’s challenge in any way. In fact, the next line states that Moses was the most humble man on the face of the earth. In other words, he just took it in silence. I’m sure it hurt and I’m sure he was shocked upon realizing that they were trying to get others on their side, but whatever the case, he took it. Then God steps in. God called the three of them together and had Miriam and Aaron step forward. God then proceeded to defend Moses and make it clear that Moses was indeed on a different level. God added that Moses was the most faithful servant He had and that Miriam and Aaron in no way had the right to say anything against him. God ends His defense of Moses by striking Miriam with leprosy.
The story could have ended right there with Moses having the last laugh, but it didn’t. Aaron quickly repents and asks Moses to intercede for Miriam and without hesitation the Bible says,
So Moses cried out to the LORD saying, “Please heal her, O God, I pray!” | Numbers 12:13
God listens to Moses and heals Miriam. What really gets me is not that Moses stood silently against his attacker, it’s the way Moses interceded for Miriam. I find it incredible that the Bible says Moses literally cried out to the Lord on her behalf. Not only did he forgive her, but he begged God for her life. It’s easy to minimize Moses’s prayer, but Miriam was clearly so wrong that God audibly put her in her place.
How easy it is to cry out to the Lord for yourself or for someone who has suffered some great injustice, but how difficult to cry out for one that is finally getting what they deserve! It’s Moses’s response to Miriam’s affliction that truly illustrates why God chose him to be the leader of His people. In fact, Moses is a picture of Christ. We sinned against Him and He died on the cross for that sin saying,
“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do…” | Luke 23:34
In the book of Galatians we are told,
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. | Galatians 6:1-2
These verses give us three simple instructions for dealing with someone who is in sin:
- You are to help them get back in good standing – not just point the sin out (or talk about it with others) and walk away.
- You are to watch yourself. Do not fall into the sin of pride or something else because you lack a Christ-like love for them.
- Carry each other’s burdens. Your help should be physical. We usually think, “I’ll pray for them.” But let your help be physical. If you can’t get directly involved or they won’t listen, get on your knees and cry out on their behalf – that is physical help!
We can call ourselves Christians all day long. We can carry the name of Christ proudly, but can we do what Moses did? Can we love God and those that hurt us so fiercely that there is no room in our hearts to love ourselves? According to Jesus the two greatest commandments are to love God and to love one another – we have got to start taking this seriously and stop focusing on loving ourselves. Self-love is what the world promotes; it’s what keeps us focused on our own problems and struggles and prevents us from being Christ-like. Love God first, and then love one another! If God gives you an opportunity to watch someone fall, take the opportunity to pick them up!