By Rev. Dr. Richard C. Steinlechner
It is one thing for a person to run away when opposition arises in your life, to hide when the danger literally terrifies you, or to reply when the words of another are unkind or untrue; but it is quite another thing to stand still in order to see the Lord work within your life, or to hold your tongue while committing everything to Him. Few of us can live on this level. Moses was one who could.
On a day that wasn’t expected by Moses, the call to serve God was suddenly thrust upon him. God said that He wanted Moses to go free His people from their bondage (their slavery) in Egypt, where the Pharaoh was keeping them to provide labor for his country.
Moses thought, “Who am I, that I should go to the Pharaoh?” To that question, there was only one reply from God. He said, “I will be with you.” Whatever the perplexities, problems, indignities and impossibilities that would arise, Moses could count upon the presence of God.
But God’s calling upon Moses was only half the battle. Dealing with the Pharaoh in those days could be a death sentence. If someone like Moses told the Pharaoh to listen to the message of God, the Pharaoh would probably respond exactly the way this one did in the Book of Exodus, Chapter 5 and verse 2: “Who is the Lord that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.”
You see, mighty leaders had no regard for the Lord at all, or His servant, Moses. Leadership had only contempt for the command of God.
When someone has contempt for us, it can cut deeply into our spirit and cause us to waver from the course of action that we believe God has led us to take. Our answer, just like Moses, is to count on God when others hold us in contempt.
This was not the last time that Moses had to deal with contempt. Next, it was from the Israelites themselves – the very people Moses was leading to freedom. They had been led through the Red Sea, they had received water from a rock, they were provided daily manna for their physical needs, and they had the constant reminder of God’s presence by the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. What could they possibly need beyond that?
Nothing, and yet they complained. They developed contempt against Moses. Their cry was constant and their weeping was truly a hardship on their leader, Moses. But, amazingly, he endured despite the criticism of the people, even some who were very close to him.
Often, even if we can ignore the contempt that some people have for us, it is hard to ignore the blows and bruises from our own flesh and blood. Miriam and Aaron were Moses’ sister and brother, and their comments cut him to the quick. No hurt can be as deep as that caused by our own family. But Moses remained true to God’s call.
Imagine how hard it was to keep his head about him when all those people around him were losing their composure, casting all the blame on him. He suffered the contempt of all, the complaints of his world, the criticism of loved ones and the condemnation of the fearful. Only big men obey the Lord under all circumstances. Small men demand authority, even when they don’t actually deserve it.
When all manners of cruelty are concocted against you – contempt, complaint, criticism, condemnation or conspiracy – Christ will not fail you. Walk as if you are constantly in His presence – because you are. We have our example. His name was Moses.
Rev. Dr. Richard C. Steinlechner is senior pastor of New Lebanon Community Church.