Thoroughly Equipped: The Humble Servant

Today’s reading includes Numbers 11:24-13:33, Mark 14:22-52, Psalm 52:1-9, Proverbs 11:1-3.

Today, I am thinking about Moses.  What a job he had!  What a life he led.  His greatness was hidden in the wrappings of an ordinary basket.  He was a sinner, a rebe,l which led to his title of murderer.  Then he was a flee-er, running away from his mistakes.  Then, he was a settler—settling for a life of mediocrity, not wanting to rock the boat, just wanting to tend his sheep.  But then, there was the bush burning with holy calling, holy forgiveness for his past, holy trust beckoning him to go do the job God knew he could do.

What most important characteristic do we see in Moses as a result of his past, his encounter with a holy God, his reluctance to feel equipped to handle the call?  The characteristic developed through the fire of trial and the face to face with a holy God was humility.  Today we read in Numbers 12:3 about the humility of Moses.

(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)

In all the world, he was the most humble.  That was why he was honored above all to be the great leader of God’s chosen people.  It wasn’t his talents, his personality, or his drive.  It was his humility.

What is humility?  My dictionary says it is a modest or low view of one’s own importance.

It doesn’t say that it is a low self-esteem.  It doesn’t say that it is description of one who doesn’t think very highly of themselves.  It says that they have a low view of their importance.  Which means they realize that other people, other causes, other callings are more important than they are; are more important than what they desire.

I have heard it said that it is not that a humble person does not think very highly of themselves, but that a humble person doesn’t think very often of themselves.  They are too busy thinking of others.

In today’s text, we see that his humility resulted in an intimate and close relationship with God.  God trusted him.

And the Lord said to them, “Now listen to what I say:

“If there were prophets among you,
    I, the Lord, would reveal myself in visions.
    I would speak to them in dreams.
But not with my servant Moses.
    Of all my house, he is the one I trust.
I speak to him face to face,
    clearly, and not in riddles!
    He sees the Lord as he is.
So why were you not afraid
    to criticize my servant Moses?”

Not only did God trust him because of his humility, God also defended him.  When Aaron and Miriam got jealous, they started criticizing him.  They criticized his wife, and they criticized the importance of his calling.  In their pride, they believed that they were just as capable of leading the people and hearing from God as Moses was.  But it was that very pride which eliminated their ability to hear truth from God.  They were thinking of themselves and had convinced themselves that their criticisms were valid.  One thing of importance to note.  This was a sibling fight.  Aaron was Moses’ brother and Miriam was Moses’ sister.  Sometimes we don’t take seriously the command to love one another well among our family members.  We often speak harsh and vicious words and justify our actions because the recipients are our family members.  We would never speak that way to those outside of our family, so why do we think it is okay among our family?  When this justification happened among these two siblings, God was not pleased.  Not at all.  It is significant to me that God called them all to the Tabernacle—to the holy place.  And the Lord descended in the pillar of cloud—the same pillar that had been leading them.  This pillar was their safety and their security for this was the presence of God.  But God loves us too much to leave us in our sin, even in the “little” sin among our family members.  Verse nine is frightening indeed:

“The Lord was very angry with them and he departed.”

When He departed, the consequences of sin had its full impact and Miriam stood covered with leprosy.  Remember that leprosy represented sin and uncleanness.

A lesser man would have felt justified.  A lesser man would have been happy that they were punished.  But what did the humility of Moses bring forth?  He stood in the gap.  He cried out to the Lord, “O God, I beg you, please heal her!”  And God listened to the plea of His humble servant and did heal her. But not until she had time to learn the lesson he wanted her to learn.  She was kept outside the camp for seven days until the discipline had its complete and perfect work in her heart.

So, what is the practical lesson for us?  Seek humility in all things and in all relationships.  Then we just may be ready to be used of God.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Psalm 51:10-12

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