7 Dec 2011
I wonder if you have lately faced criticism. Criticism is like a rainy day, it not very pleasant but can be important in the process of growth. Some criticism is actually very helpful, that is, if our goal is to become all we can be to bring glory to God and to build up His kingdom. Of course if this is not our goal all criticism is completely negative in our eyes.
We can get a glimpse of how Moses handled criticism from the following passage.
Numbers 12:1-15 (AMP)
1 NOW MIRIAM and Aaron talked against Moses [their brother] because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite woman.
2 And they said, Has the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? Has He not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it.
3 Now the man Moses was very meek (gentle, kind, and humble) or above all the men on the face of the earth.
4 Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, Come out, you three, to the Tent of Meeting. And the three of them came out.
5 The Lord came down in a pillar of cloud, and stood at the Tent door and called Aaron and Miriam, and they came forward.
6 And He said, Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make Myself known to him in a vision and speak to him in a dream.
7 But not so with My servant Moses; he is entrusted and faithful in all My house.
8 With him I speak mouth to mouth [directly], clearly and not in dark speeches; and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?
9 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and He departed.
10 And when the cloud departed from over the Tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. And Aaron looked at Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous!
11 And Aaron said to Moses, Oh, my lord, I plead with you, lay not the sin upon us in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned.
12 Let her not be as one dead, already half decomposed when he comes out of his mother’s womb.
13 And Moses cried to the Lord, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech You!
14 And the Lord said to Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed for seven days? Let her be shut up outside the camp for seven days, and after that let her be brought in again.
15 So Miriam was shut up without the camp for seven days, and the people did not journey on until Miriam was brought in again.
It seems in this case the criticism was born from racial prejudice and had no opportunity or benefit for Moses. In this passage Moses’ reaction is not reported but rather his character and the nature of his relationship with God. Of course our reactions always flow from our character which almost always flows from the intimacy of our relationship with God.
Another significant sign of Moses character and his intimate relationship with Jehovah, is his fervent prayer for the one who had brought the criticism; “Moses cried to the Lord saying, Heal her now, O God I beseech You!”
Criticism will come. It is not optional. Only how we respond is optional. Criticism is not our enemy, but rather it is our friend. It provides the very best environment for humility to shine. It should remind us that without the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in our lives we are simply rubbish. It also can encourage us that we are in very good company with the likes of Moses and Paul and Steven and literally millions of believers since.
“After the war General Robert E. Lee became the president of Washington College, seeking to train young men to rebuild the damaged nation. One day Lee called an underachieving sophomore into his office and told the young man that he must apply himself more to his studies, that only hard work would produce success in life. The sophomore somewhat brashly raised the issue of Lee’s efforts and the outcome of the war; ‘But, General you failed.’
Lee neither rebuked the student nor conceded his point but said simply, ‘I hope that you may be more fortunate than I’” *
“In 1954 Billy Graham was preaching in Mannheim Germany where a hostile reporter ask, ‘ What do you know about the suffering of Christ that you preach so often? You have never suffered. You live well and have the comforts of life’ Billy’s response: ‘When a Western Union messenger boy delivers a death message to a home, he doesn’t take part in all the suffering connected with the message. He just delivers the telegram. That’s all I am – God’s messenger boy.’” *
The greatness of a man is often secretly measured in heaven by the length and width and depth of his humility. May we come to fully understand criticism as God’s whet stone to shape us into sharper instruments for His Kingdom building.
*Quotes from “The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham” by Harold Myra and Marshall Shelley