We have looked at the Exodus generation in the sharing on ” A life of resting in God”. We may recall how Moses was provoked by the people of God time and again despite the fact that he had given up the ‘treasure of Egypt’ and risked his life to appear before the king of Egypt. Even Miriam and Aaron complained against him, not forgetting also the rebellion of Korah and his colleagues.
But Moses lost ‘his cool’ when he was told by God to speak to the rock to bring water forth for the people and he hit the rock with his staff twice. Because of this, God did not allow Moses to enter the promised land.
Why was God so upset with Moses? Was it not true that Moses did not respond badly many times in the past and this one failure should not have received such a severe judgement? We must remember that Moses was godly and meek; God spoke to him ‘face to face’ and perhaps God expects him to respond better since he was so close to God and knew God intimately. The ‘rock’ Moses struck could be a type of the Messiah and the Messiah should not be ‘struck’ at all to do God’s will. Whatever the reasons may be, it is helpful for us to ponder on how we should respond when we are provoked.
We have stated before that it may be helpful to ask God to ‘search us’ as in psalm 139. We are not advocating unhealthy introspection but rather to open up ourselves to God’s Spirit to examine our inner motives and beings with the view of helping us to form Christlike habits of the fruit of the Spirit.
The list given by the late J.I. Packer in ‘Rediscovering holiness’ is truly helpful:
We should think of:
a) Love as the Christlike reaction to people’s malice
b) Joy as the Christlike reaction to depressing circumstances
c) Peace as the Christlike reaction to troubles, threats and invitations to anxiety
d)Patience as the Christlike reaction to all that is maddening
e)Kindness as the Christlike reaction to all who are unkind
f) Goodness as the Christlike reaction to bad people and bad behaviour
g) Faithfulness and gentleness as the Christlike reactions to lies and fury
h) Self-control as the Christlike reaction to every situation that goads you to lose your cool and hit out
The principle is clear: The Holy Spirit is with us to empower us, and we know that Christlike behaviour is now in the profoundest sense natural to us (because we are born again, a new creation in union with Christ, adopted as God’s children with Christ as our elder brother who not only ‘died for us’ but also served as a model or paradigm for us to ‘imitate’ and to follow in His example of fully pleasing the Father and totally depending on the Holy Spirit). He is even now at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us and urging us to walk the narrow way to Life and godliness.
But still, maintaining Christlikeness under this kind of pressure is hard. Moses also failed but he did not remain in his failure. The Apostle Paul, himself, under provocation, replied rudely to the chief priest but he recovered his composure. The Christian life is a supernatural life; living in the fallen world with our indwelling sin and the formidable enemy close at hand, such a life has to be a ‘struggle’. Nevertheless, God promised us that ‘All authority (power) in heaven and on earth has been given to the Lord Jesus, ..and He is with us always to the end of the age’. The triune God commands, promises and enables and nothing is impossible with God. All we are asked to do is to trust, obey Him and not allow anyone, any situation or any circumstance to thwart us – He will work out everything for good for those who trust Him and are called according to His purpose. The fruit of the Spirit would emerge as we learn step by step, with very frequent falterings, to walk in the Spirit. The end result would be truly beautiful and godly!
Glory and praise be unto Him!