READ: Numbers 12
THINK: There is some pretty crazy sibling rivalry going on here! Miriam and Aaron don’t like it that Moses is getting the lions share of the glory – that their brother is the leader – so they start gossiping about him and talking behind his back. And the passage makes it pretty clear that they couldn’t find anything wrong with his character – he was pursuing God in his position of leadership so much that even though he spoke to God directly he was still the most humble man on earth. So, they had to find something else to assail and they went with, “He married a black woman.” Classy! You can’t help but think about how lucky Mrs. Moses would have felt to have racist in-laws.
This story is another one – of many – in the book of Numbers where it is easy to sit back and say, “I can’t believe they did that! They were so messed up and wrong and sinful. How could they not see?” And it’s not that this is a poor observation. It’s spot on. The trouble comes when we remove ourselves from their situation. As though we’ve never been jealous. As though we’ve never gossiped. But we have.
It’s easy to become jealous and to let that jealousy cloud our vision so powerful that we gossip and spread rumors about other people. And it is incredibly dangerous – to ourselves and to our communities – when we attempt to cloak our jealousy behind some sort of spiritual reasoning. But we do it. When Michelangelo and Raphael – two of history’s greatest artists – we’re both working on the Sistine Chapel they developed a jealous rivalry and refused to talk to or acknowledge one another…all while producing art “for the glory of God.”
How often are we like Michelangelo and Raphael, like Miriam and Aaron? How often do we cloak our own jealousy and insecurity with seemingly spiritual gossip that is grounded more in our own pride than in God’s call upon our lives? How often do we brazenly criticize our leaders without having a serious gut-check about our motivations? It’s not the leaders or others within the body of Christ are beyond criticism. They certainly aren’t. But we ought to be careful because our natural tendency is not to do it for the glory of God but instead to do it for the glory of self. And God, as evidenced by his reaction to Miriam in Numbers 12, thinks none too highly of that.
PRAY: Confess the times you’ve gossiped about someone because deep down you were jealous of them. Confess the times you’ve criticized leaders because they weren’t doing things how you wanted them done even though they may very well have been doing things how God wanted them done. Commit to not gossiping and to getting rid of jealousy.