It’s often been said that we’re our own worst enemy! It’s true. Far too often we do things that sabotage our own progress, health and happiness. We’re all prone to self-destructive attitudes and behaviors.
Sometimes the things that hurt us are not so obvious to us. In fact, many seemingly innocent thoughts and actions have greater negative impact on us than we imagine.
There’s a story in the Old Testament that highlights one of these self-destructive patterns. During the days of Moses’ leadership in Israel, his sister Miriam and brother Aaron almost lost their lives because of a subtle destructive attitude. Moses married a woman that they didn’t approve of. This disapproval soured them. They developed a critical spirit toward Moses. Eventually their critical thoughts became critical words.
Before long they were sharing their “concerns” with folks around them. Their daily conversations with people were sprinkled with references to the bad judgment of Moses. They openly questioned Moses’ relationship with God and his authority to lead Israel. In short, their attitudes and words were stirring up trouble in Israel’s camp.
What they didn’t realize was that God was listening! God heard everything they said, and more significantly, God saw the pride and judgment in their hearts. Their criticism of Moses said more about them than it did about Moses. It revealed a spiritual disease in their own souls.
Finally God had enough. He spoke from heaven and called Moses, Aaron and Miriam to a meeting. When He had their attention, God pointed His finger at Miriam and Aaron. He spoke some sharp words of correction to them, and allowed them to experience the consequences of their criticism.
Take a look at their encounter with God and the things that followed:
Numbers 12:8-13 (GW) “… Why weren’t you afraid to criticize my servant Moses?” The Lord was angry with them, so He left. When the smoke left the tent, Miriam was covered with an infectious skin disease. She was as white as snow. Aaron turned to her and saw she was covered with the disease. So he said to Moses, “Please, sir, don’t punish us for this foolish sin we committed. Don’t let her be like a stillborn baby that’s not completely developed.” So Moses cried to the Lord, “Please, God, heal her!”
Miriam’s critical spirit resulted in leprosy. The external disease was simply a physical expression of what was going on in her heart. Her “outside” reflected the ugliness of her “inside.”
This was a lesson for her, and for all of us. It’s a reminder that a critical attitude robs us of life and vitality! It eats away at us. It emaciates us. It makes us unattractive.
All of us need to be on guard against a critical spirit. It attracts God’s negative attention, and His judgment. A critical spirit invites death. It kills. It erodes. It divides. It marks us with spiritual and emotional spots. It damages our soul. It infects and contaminates others. It’s an ugly reflection of a prideful, arrogant heart.
Do you have a critical spirit? Ask God to heal you. Through Moses’ prayers God helped Miriam recover. God will help you too!