Exodus 16:8 “Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.”
When leaders are genuinely following God this is a valid defense, but this sort of statement has been misused by dictatorial leaders down through the centuries. Moses had been humbled by his encounters with God to the point that he could say this in all honesty. (Numbers 12:13) An article I read just yesterday in Ministry Today (a monthly magazine) was talking about how pride is the hidden weakness that trips up more ministers than anything else. One of the many dangers of pride is how often we fail to recognize it in ourselves. We have little trouble spotting it in others, but it is a very common blind spot. However, when we are operating in pride we think everything depends on us, and that can destroy us. Quoting Moses here in a manipulative manner is evil, but barring that, recognizing the truth in this statement can be very liberating. Jesus said that we aren’t to take people’s reactions to us personally, because they actually are reacting to Him in us. (John 15:18-21) The biggest danger comes in choosing the world’s approval over God’s approval. That’s fatal, spiritually speaking, which is ironic because we do it to “save our own skin,” so to speak. We forget Jesus’ very pointed words: “Then he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?’” (Luke 9:23-25) We need to live our lives recognizing that the physical world, and physical life itself, is temporary, and be fully committed to our eternal Lord.
This is a subject that has been on my mind a great deal since seeing the movie, Silence. I have a close friend who feels the priest in the movie who apostasized to try to save some believers from martyrdom was very noble, but I cannot have peace with that. At the very least he was severely deceived. I am both to proclaim and live out the truth in love, whatever the short-term consequences for me or for my hearers. Someone who commits to Jesus Christ and then is tortured to death for it is far better off than someone who lives a long and easy life without Christ. I am to recognize my own weaknesses, but at the same time I am not to shrink back from people looking to me as Christ’s representative, because that is what I am. Any believer who is operating in humble obedience to God has more spiritual authority than the greatest human ruler. (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:18-20) I am not to think for a moment I can do anything good on my own, but I also am not to doubt that God can do whatever He likes through me.
Father, this is a continuing issue in my life. You give me opportunities daily to speak and act as Christ’s representative, and I am grateful. Thank You for showing me my pride so many times, and for enabling me to repent. I’m going to have to keep that up until I’m before Your throne! Help me be fully, consistently submitted to Your Spirit, releasing everything to You, for Your will to be done in and through me for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!