Thus far in our daily devotions we have considered two attitudes that really bug God and caused the people of Israel to waste 40 years living in a spiritual wilderness. These two wrong attitudes can and should be replaced with an attitude of thankfulness and contentment.
The next attitude that is devastating to the church family and bugs God is a Critical attitude.
You may have heard it said or read it in a book that outlook determines outcome. The attitudes we choose have a direct bearing on the way we see our circumstances. For example: two people can view an accident and see it differently based upon the attitude they choose.
Some of us, including myself, struggle with certain attitudes because of our home environment or churches we attended in formative years. If you grew up in a home where faultfinding, picking on imperfections, or negative feedback was common, you may struggle with a critical attitude. Perhaps you Sunday dinner consisted of “roast preacher.” I must confess as a young parent too many times I displayed a critical attitude, and my children suffered from it.
Where in the Bible do we see a critical attitude being displayed that bugged God and made him angry? Go back with me to Numbers chapter 12 and see what happened.
“Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against (criticized in NLT) Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married.” (NASB)
Two of Moses’ most trusted leaders, brother and sister no less lashed out with a critical attitude. Everything was going great until Miriam and Aaron made some bad choices. Moses, their own brother and God’s chosen deliverer, became the target of their criticism.
James MacDonald says, “Criticism is dwelling upon the perceived faults of another with no view to their good. These “perceived faults” take place because my perception of what is wrong with you is not necessarily accurate.”
A lot of things can be going in in your life of which I have no clue, or the problem might be with me and not you at all. Most of the criticism we engage in is “destructive” and does nothing to build up the faith of a brother or sister in Christ. This critical attitude should be avoided at all costs.
Miriam and Aaron’s criticism did nothing to enhance Moses’ leadership. If anything, it provided fuel for the fires of criticism that existed among the entire congregation.
Their criticism wasn’t just about Moses’ choice of a wife. That was only a surface issue. The real root of their criticism is found in verse 2,
“Has the Lord spoken only through Moses” Has He not spoken through us as well?” And the Lord heard it.
It’s rather obvious that jealousy and envy were motivating factors in their choice to criticize the leaders, Moses. Don’t miss the last five words in verse 2 – And the Lord heard it. Wow! Trouble was coming now. Heads were going to roll. Sin always brings consequences that cannot be avoided even if forgiveness is granted. Look at what happened when God confronted them.
Suddenly the Lord said to Moses and Aaron and to Miriam, “You three come out to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them came out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tent, and he called Aaron and Miriam. (4-5)
So the anger of the Lord burned against them and He departed. But when the cloud ;had withdrawn from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. (v. 10)
It is obvious from the result that Miriam was the instigator and Aaron had been drawn into the fracas with her. Aaron appealed to Moses, and Moses asked God to heal her, which he did, but she still had to be isolated from the camp for seven days before being received back in again. Sin always has consequences.
What do we learn from this passage, and how do we avoid it in the future?
First, a critical attitude is wrong. It is a bad choice and we need to think carefully before we speak.
Second, a critical attitude breaks our fellowship with God. It doesn’t destroy our relationship, but it does affect our sense of his love and presence.
Third, A critical attitude destroys our fellowship with others. Who wants to spend time with a person who is critical of others?
How do we overcome a critical attitude? We need to replace it with an attitude of love. Let each of us go to I Corinthians 13, Pauls’ love chapter, and practice the principles of love outlined in verse 1-8. Better yet, perhaps we should commit them to memory.