Focal Passage: Numbers 12:1-15
Being unduly critical, without warrant and grace, is sin. In fact, the Bible calls believers to put away all kinds of attitudes, behaviors, and speech. As Ephesians 4:29-32 notes we are to put away filthy talk, bitterness, anger, slander, malice, and gossip. If most people followed this biblical admonition they would say very little.
Through the story of Moses recorded in Numbers 12 we see what God thinks about criticism and how to deal with it. In brief, God hates the sins of criticism, gossip, slander, and backbiting.
Comparison leads to criticism (Numbers 12:1-3). Miriam and Aaron were bring critical of Moses. Why? For two reasons.
First, they disagreed with Moses’ choice of a wife. She was a Cushite woman, an easy target for the hyper-critical. Cowards go after the family members of leaders.
Second, they were jealous of Moses’ role and relationship with God as God’s main mouthpiece. In other words, Moses thought he was so special that God could only speak through him and not Aaron or Miriam. Yet, Moses never made this distinction, God did.
Notice two responses as noted in verse 3. First, God heard these criticisms. This means that when we are being unfairly criticized we can rest assured that God hears and knows about the gossip. Second, Moses’ response was masterful — he remained humble. Moses did not retaliate.
Criticism questions God’s work (Numbers 12:4-9). God alone knows why He chooses the people, places, and events of life in order to accomplish His will. If God chooses to bless someone that is His prerogative.
God called Aaron and Miriam to account for their critical attitudes. He reminded them that while God does speak in other ways to other people and prophets in all times, He spoke directly with Moses in a special and unique way.
God chose Moses because, though not perfect, he was faithful. Rather than speaking in riddles and mysteries as God so often did to many of the prophets, God spoke directly and openly with Moses. Further, God’s anger burned against Aaron and Miriam.
When we criticize others, especially when they appear to be spiritually successful and we’re not, we are questioning how God works. God is the one who chooses whom He will bless.
Confess and repent of a critical spirit (Numbers 12:10-15). As God confronted Aaron and Miriam, the text notes that Miriam’s skin began to be diseased, resembling snow (maybe leprosy).
When Aaron saw what God did to Miriam he asked for mercy from God. Further, he asked God to not hold this sin against them.
In an act of mercy, God used Moses to heal Miriam. Miriam was moved outside the camp for seven days after which she was healed and the people of God were able to move on.
Living with a critical spirit is unnecessary. It is small-minded, rude, despicable, immature, callous, and rooted in jealousy. Gossip and slander in a family and in the church is damaging, detrimental, and divisive.
If you have a critical attitude that is not helpful and does not ultimately seek God’s glory and the best for others, you need to repent and start anew. Your family and the church can ill afford to live with people who cannot control their own tongues (James 3:1-12). B&R