Tag Archives: Numbers 12

Prejudice, Comparison, and That Which I Control

Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.
Numbers 12:1-2 (NIV)

Our local gathering of Jesus’ followers has spent the past eight weeks in a series on “Kingdom Culture.” In the prayer Jesus taught His followers to pray it says, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We’ve been talking about what it means to live and relate with one another as a part of God’s kingdom on earth.

The sticky wicket, of course, is that any group of humans in an organization tend to have relational struggles and conflicts over time. Despite what Dr. Luke described in Acts 2: 42-47 as an idyllic beginning, even the early church began to struggle rather quickly. Most of the letters that make up what we call the New Testament address relational struggles within the local groups of Jesus’ followers. Paul himself had famous rows with Peter and Barnabas.

It was no different for Moses and the Hebrew tribes as they leave Egypt and begin to be make a nation of themselves. In the previous chapter the conflict was with the whines of the “rabble” within their midst. Today is is Moses very own siblings.

What’s fascinating to me is that Miriam and Aaron at first complain about Moses’ wife being a Cushite. There were multiple regions referenced as Cush in ancient times. It is not known for sure who they were referencing here. At least some scholars believe that they were referencing Moses’ wife Zippora who was from the land of Midian. Whatever the case, they complained about Moses’ wife being a foreigner, but then immediately discuss what appears to be envy and jealousy for their brother, Moses’, standing and position. How very human of us it is to complain about one thing on the surface (Moses being married to a Cushite) that masks a deeper resentment (sibling rivalry, envy, and jealousy about brother Moses’ standing with God as leader and prophet).

This morning I’m thinking about how common the human penchant is for prejudice, jealousy, and envy which leads to back-biting, quarrels, and conflicts both small and great. I’m reminded of Jesus’ conversation with Peter on the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee when he prophetically reveals to Peter the violent end he will endure. Peter’s immediate response was to look at John and ask, “What about him?

Jesus answered, If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

I am so given to worrying about others, comparing myself to others, and seeking some sort of perceived personal equity with others. Jesus response to Peter tells me to stop concerning myself with useless and destructive comparisons. Each person is on his or her own respective journey, and their journey will not look like mine. My time, energy and resources are to be focused on my own journey, my own relationship with God, and the personal thoughts, words, and actions I control with my heart, mind, eyes, ears, mouth, hands and feet.

Chapter-a-Day Numbers 12

Spotlight
Image by Nathan Wells via Flickr

Miriam and Aaron talked against Moses behind his back
because of his Cushite wife (he had married a Cushite woman). They said, “Is it only through Moses that God speaks? Doesn’t he also speak through us?” Numbers 12:1-2 (MSG)

Any person who steps into leadership makes him/herself a good target. Leaders are usually standing up in front. They often find themselves standing alone, in the spotlight, addressing the crowd. No wonder it’s so easy to take a shot at them as they stand there alone. There is a reason that leaders get criticized no matter what they do.

The role of a leader is a difficult one and those who do it well make it look very easy. Like Aaron and Miriam, it’s easy to step back and think that we could do just as good a job, if not better. It’s easy for envy to set in.

“Why not me?”
“What does he/she have that I don’t?”
“It’s not fair that he/she gets all the attention and has it easy.”

There is a reason God tells us to honor and pray for our leaders. It’s easy to criticize and tear down, but it takes discipline to honor and humbly submit to God ordained authority.

Today, I’m watching my words as I speak about others, especially those in positions of leadership.

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