"Roasted Preacher" for Sunday Dinner?

Bible Reading: Numbers 16; 17; 18

Most of what is recorded about the Israelites' forty years in the desert is their continual complaining against the leadership of Moses and/or Aaron (12:1-16; 14:1-25; 16:1-50; 20:1-9; 21:4-9). Their rebellion always made God angry and produced grave consequences.

God obviously views it as a serious offense when people rise up against those he has placed in servant-leadership roles in the church. Rather than tearing them down with our complaints and criticism, we should lift them up with encouragement and prayer, asking God to lead them in his ways and instruct them in his truth and wisdom. Knowing that they, too, are imperfect and vulnerable, let us extend grace and affirmation to those who serve us, from the pulpit to the nursery.

"And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!" (1 Thess. 5:12-13 Msg). "They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you" (Heb. 13:17).

Amazingly, though Moses did sometimes get defensive and angry, he always fell face down before God and pled for mercy for his people. Instead of wanting revenge for their betrayal and lack of support, he interceded on their behalf ...just as Jesus interceded for his offenders on the cross: "Forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Instead of worrying about his own reputation, Moses worried about God's reputation: "If you put these people to death all at one time, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, 'The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath; so he slaughtered them in the desert'" (14:15-16).

When people attack me or my family, help me, Lord, to respond with the attitude of Moses. Instead of lashing out at them, give me the grace to fall face down before you on their behalf, putting their healing before my own hurt, pleading for your reputation instead of my own. May your strength be displayed in their lives (14:17), so that others will know that you are "a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love" (9:17; 14:18). "In accordance with your great love, forgive them..." (14:19).