Thursday, April 4, 2019
Consider for a moment how many of our negative reactions and responses to people and circumstances are really directed at God and offend Him deeply. To help our understanding of this issue, read the following story from the life of Moses.
Exodus 16:1-8 The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’S hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?” Moses also said, “You will know that it was the LORD when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the LORD.”
Here’s a practical modern-day illustration. A loving mother takes a somewhat rebellious child to the grocery store. Little Johnny sees the Froot Loops in the cereal aisle and has expressed a strong desire to have some. Mommy explains to Johnny that she already has cereal at home for him. An argument begins because Johnny wants this cereal and he wants it now. He stomps his feet and refuses to move along. He may even scream a little and say things about how he never gets anything that he wants. He closes with a statement about how he is going to starve because there’s nothing to eat at home.
I apologize if that sounds too familiar. But let’s analyze what is really happening. Johnny has become so self-absorbed with the Froot Loops that it causes him to stop and refuse to move on in his life until he gets what he wants. His focus is so distorted that he irrationally evaluates his condition and the historical faithfulness of the food supply at home. He has chosen to not see beyond the immediate.
What we have here is a perfect definition of the word “grumble”. In the original Hebrew language, it is the word loon, and it literally means to stop; to stay permanently; to be obstinate. We could honestly and truthfully say that stubborn people are loony.
But the real issue with Johnny is this – he has declared his mother to be unfaithful and irresponsible. No matter how much she explains to him that she will feed him and provide for him, he chooses not to honor her but rather attempts to manipulate her into giving him what he wants. He manipulates through stopping, stomping, screaming, and scaring. He literally places himself above his mother in authority and in his ability to determine what is best for him.
This is serious: not just for Johnny, but because it is so true of our own lives in relationship with God. Complaining about our current situation and the people who are influencing and affecting our lives is a direct rebellion against the faithfulness and responsibility of God to determine what is best for our lives. This attitude stinks with the smell of a dead and decaying body being placed back on the throne of our life.
Quite a word picture, isn’t it? But that is exactly my intention. Our old nature and the flesh were to have died and been buried with Christ at the time of our salvation. Jesus was given full access to the throne of our lives and He was declared Lord and sovereign of all. But how many times have we replaced Jesus on the throne with the corruption and compost of our dead self by complaining and manipulating to get our own way? This certainly is not the life of focused faith that pleases God.
So next time we’re tempted to stop and stay at a place where we think we should have received something for ourselves, remember Johnny. Remember the Israelites. Make a choice to focus on the Lordship of Jesus Christ is faithful and responsible to bless us with every spiritual blessing from on high so that we can fulfill His divine purpose. Choose not to be loony. Choose to rejoice in the unfailing love of God.