Replacing Wilderness Attitude #3 Numbers 12
Intro: I thought about writing a book titled:
Good lessons from Bad examples
The Bible does not hide the sins of the saints, neither the bad and tragic examples of people making poor or disastrous decisions.
- Judas walked with Jesus for 3 years and still did not trust Him.
- David, man after God’s heart, had everything he could have dreamed of having and yet bored and went after another man’s wife.
- Samson died before his time seeking his own pleasure.
- The bad example that God mentions over and over again in both OT and NT as a warning to us to learn from: The Israel that died in the wilderness never reaching the plans God had for them.
“Now all these things happened to them for examples. They are written as an admonition to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come.” I Cor. 10:11
admonition = warning or counsel given by an authority to stop a behavior or action.
Ill. What if you were a contestant on a game show and was asked what was the reason the children of Israel could not enter the Promise land?
If you answered: UNBELIEF, you would be correct. However, unbelief was the root of all their problems while they were in the wilderness.
If unbelief is the root then, what is the fruit?
Fruit of unbelief - Fruit of faith (rest)
Coveting - Contentment
Doubt - Faith
Criticism - Love
Ill. Man driving U-Haul loaded with everything he owned pulled into a gas station to refuel. At the pump he started talking to another guy pumping gas into his truck. “Do you live in this town?” “Yes, all my life” he replied. “We are moving here from town up North. What kind of people can we expect to find here?” “Well, what kind of people did you leave behind up North?” “Oh, they were so negative, ungrateful, critical, unhappy bunch of people, all of them. That is why we are moving here.” “What are the people like here?” The man said, “Oh about the same!” And he was right. More often than not, how we perceive a matter, the attitude we choose directly influences what we will experience.
- People leave a church because of something they do not like and come to this one thinking it is the greatest church on earth. Soon they start to see things here that were similar to the old church.
“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3
- Until we accept responsibility for our own attitude we will never be able to change anything. What I am talking about is:
Identifying and removing a critical spirit that is hindering your life.
“Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he married.” Numbers 12:1
“spoke against” = criticized
Criticism = dwelling upon the perceived faults of others without any intention of helping them.
“Spoke against” is a feminine verb meaning the the primary critic was Miriam and Aaron sort of got dragged into this.
Remember Miriam is Moses big sister:
She was the one who hid Moses in the bulrushes in the Nile as a baby.
Miriam loved Moses. She was a godly woman. She was the first woman prophet mentioned in the bible. She led the women in worship and dance. The point is anyone can struggle in this area and we need to take heed at the message today.
- Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman he married. Details we don’t know are maybe his wife Zipporah died and he re-married. Cushite = Ethiopian.
- Big sister did not like the choice that little brother made! But was this the real issue?
“And they said, ‘Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?’ And the Lord heard it.” Verse 2
- The real issue was they were questioning Moses call from God to lead them and questioning his decisions and judgment. God hears this and defends his man. He calls all 3 to a God- frontation in His office at the door of the tabernacle.
- God said I speak to prophets in dreams and riddles but with Moses I speak face to face. “Why were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?” Note God’s deep feelings!
They had no idea the price Moses had paid to walk where he walked with God! They thought they were on the same level as Moses and they were not.
Short version: God strikes Miriam with leprosy so bad like a dead person. Aaron pleads with Moses that they acted foolishly and Moses prays for her and after 7 days she is healed.
Why is this in the Bible? For us to learn and note that God takes seriously the way we treat each other – even secret conversations.
Why did God judge Miriam so severely with leprosy and yet people today are critical and don’t get leprosy?
- She was a leader with Moses and first prophetess. With great privilege comes greater judgment.
- Maybe criticism still invites an inside leprosy that eats away the life God has for you?
Criticism hurts our fellowship with God, and others and ourselves.
Ill. In a book titled “Nervous tension” a doctor surveyed thousands of people seeking the secret to emotional health. One fact stood out clearly. Those who suffered from extreme tension were all habitual critics, faultfinders of people and things around them. People who free from from strife and tension were the least critical of others. Becoming critical was a learned habit that brought very destructive emotional and physical health to people.
Did you hear one of Aesop’s fables about a man and his grandson traveling to town? The old man walked as his grandson rode the donkey. Some criticized him saying, “Look at that old man suffering while that young boy who is strong rides the donkey.” The old man hearing this switched places. Soon heard another critic, “Look a that grown man taking advantage of a little boy.” So the man and boy both rode the donkey then heard another critic say, “Look at those heavy brutes making the poor donkey suffer. So they both got off and walked and then heard another critic say, “What a waste that a perfectly good donkey is not being used!” The final scene shows the boy and the old man staggering along trying to carry the donkey!
Point: If someone has a critical spirit – there is nothing you can do to satisfy them. Behind the petty issue is a real heart issue of some kind of bitterness and un-forgiveness.
When bitterness and un-forgiveness is in the heart then criticism will be on the lips.
“Beware of anything that puts you in the place of the superior person.” Oswald Chambers
How to handle criticism:
1. Some criticism is not worth our attention and energy. I Peter 5:7
2. Make sure you don’t catch the disease and return it.
3. Learn from it – there may be a grain of truth in it.
Ill. Lincoln received criticism from one of his cabinet and was asked by the press about it (trying to stir up trouble).
“Mr. is a very intelligent man, if he said it there must be some truth to it.”
4. If being critical is your habit, then take action to overcome it.
- “Little foxes spoil the vine.”
- Keep yourself under the pressure to change by meditation on love and asking to help you break this habit.
Concl: Change, maturity does not come easy. Old habits don’t die easily. The truth is most people don’t change. They stay critical and then excuse their behavior or justify themselves.
- There is a price to be paid in order to experience all God has for us.
Many people walked away after hearing Jesus preaching saying,
“This is a hard saying; who can (accept) it?” Jn 6:60
People in the world are use to seeing and hearing criticism about God’s church. They often hear about it from the people who claim to be Xns. They hear and see churches break up and then Xns leave one church for another, criticize this church, that pastor, or ministry.
The world is still waiting to see something they have not seen yet.
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another.” John 13:35
What’s the answer to a critical spirit? Receive love from God and give love from God to others. They need it you need to let it flow from you through you to them.
Ill. Years ago preacher D.L. Moody sensed the Lord wanted him to grow in this matter of love. He wrote more than 100 years ago:
I looked up the word Love and began to study love for many weeks. I studied the passages of love in the bible till I could not help but love people. Feed on love so much that you get so full of love that all you have to do is open your lips and a flood of love flows out. Love will never fail.
- Love will always take things or situations to a better place.
- If you pursue love with your whole heart then even when people hurt you, God will use that – because Love never fails. Never!
You and I are here today because love did not stop pursuing us. Love has been given to us unconditionally and perfectly and has not failed.
This same love you have received – now needs to flow through your lips and life to someone today.