If You Can't Say Something Nice. . .


I do not envy Moses.  In fact, I wonder how many times during that forty year wilderness journey he wished he were back watching his sheep.  It certainly would have been easier. . . and quieter.  I taught kindergarten for nine years, but the complaints and whining I heard don't even come close to comparing with what Moses had to deal with.  Those people were never happy!

We're hungry.

We're thirsty.

We're tired.

We don't want to eat that.

We don't want to fight for the land.

Whine, whine, whine.

Even God grew frustrated with them.  Verse 23 of Psalm 106 tells us, Therefore he said that he would destroy them.  It sounds to me like God was pretty fed up.  He'd had enough of their grumbling.  He'd had enough of their unfaithfulness.  He'd had enough of their ingratitude.  He was ready to be done with them.  That's pretty serious!  But if we continue reading the verse, we discover that Moses stood up for the people.  Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them.  For whatever reason, Moses asked God to spare the people, and God honored Moses' request.  I have to wonder if Moses was ever sorry about that move.

They angered him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes: Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips. - Psalm 106:32-33

Have you ever met someone that just brought out the worst in you?  Have you ever been around someone that frustrated you to the point that you said something you later regrettedIf so, you can relate to poor Moses.  Those Israelites had him so flustered that he couldn't think straight.  The Bible says they provoked his spirit.  And I guess Moses finally reached his breaking point.  Enough was enough, so he let it fly.  I don't know what he said, but evidently, it wasn't good.  

We can't always control who we're around.  There are time when we can't escape bad company no matter how much we wish to.  What we can control, however, is our tongue.  Yes, some people just rub us the wrong way.  I understand that, really, I do.  But does that give us the right to "speak our minds"?  Not if our minds aren't focusing on Philippians 4:8,  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

When you're frustrated and you reach your breaking point, think before you speak.  Take a moment to test your thoughts.  Are the things in your mind true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report?  If so, then by all means, speak your mind.  If they are not, however, (which is more likely to be the case in times of frustration), keep your mouth shut.  If you absolutely have to say something, fine, speak the Lord's mind, but keep your own thoughts to yourself, lest you fall into the same trap Moses fell into.

I believe it was Moses' frustration that caused him to strike the rock the second time when God had commanded him to speak to it instead.  I believe his spirit had been provoked to the point where Moses was simply ready to be done with the thing.  But in his frustration, he spoke and acted without thinking, and in the end, it cost him the promised land.  Forty years of travel, and he didn't even get to reach his destination.  How sad!

The Bible says to be angry and sin not.  Most of us don't have a problem with the "be angry" part, but we struggle a lot with the "sin not" part.  Let's be careful.  No matter how angry or flustered we become, we do not have a license to sin.  We do, on the other hand, have an obligation to be an example to the world around us.  So, what kind of examples are they seeing?