“Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” (Numbers 12:8 NIV)
Friend to Friend
Shortly after we had planted a maple tree in our backyard, we went on vacation. It was the first time we had left Ginger, our Golden Retriever, home alone in our fenced in yard. A neighbor fed and watched out for her while we were away. On the second day of our trip, I called Cathy to see how Ginger was doing.
“Well, Ginger’s fine,” Cathy reported. “But you know that tree you planted last week? She dug it up!”
“She did what!” I exclaimed.
“She dug it up. The tree’s lying in the yard.”
When we got home, we walked over to the toppled tree. Ginger tucked her tail and slunk into the garage like the bad dog she was.
When we planted the tree, we left a small piece of the burlap around the root ball exposed. Ginger spied that remnant peeking out of the ground and wanted it…bad. Several times we had caught her pawing at the burlap and reprimanded her with a stern “no!”She ducked her head, crept away and waited for a more opportune time. I imagine that the moment she saw us load suitcases in the car and pull out of the driveway, she tiptoed over to the forbidden tree and began to dig. (Can dogs tiptoe? I think they can.) She must have dug and dug for hours with all her puppy might—flinging dirt in every direction. Finally, the dirt slinger accomplished her mission. The tree was toppled, and the burlap exposed.
In the Bible, Moses’ sister, Miriam, was a dirt slinger. Even though Moses had many wonderful qualities, not to mention being chosen by God to lead His people, Miriam thought otherwise. She didn’t like his wife, his leadership style, or the fact that God called him and not her.
So, she slung dirt. The Bible tells us, “Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. ‘Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?’ they asked. ‘Hasn’t he also spoken through us?’ And the Lord heard this” (Numbers 12:1-2).
I don’t know about you, but that sentence, “And the LORD heard this,” gives me the shivers. Then God said, “Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them.” (Numbers 12:8-9)
Miriam’s punishment for dirt slinging was leprosy. Amazingly, Moses prayed for his sister, and the disease disappeared in seven days.
Now, let’s go back to God’s question, “Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” And then I hear God saying the same to me: Why are you not afraid to speak against my servant _______?
When I feel the urge to sling a little dirt about someone, especially a brother or sister in Christ, I need to remember those words and have a holy fear about speaking against any of God’s servants…and that includes all believers. Instead of being a dirt slinger, I need to be a comfort bringer.
Let’s go back to the toppled tree. Steve and I gently removed what was left of the burlap sack around the root system, carefully sat the maple back up into the prepared soil, and lovingly patted the dirt back around the parched roots. Then, because of its weakened state, we braced it up with ropes tied to three stakes in the ground. I watered the weary maple daily, not knowing if it would recover from the trauma. In the end, the tree not only survived, it thrived.
When we see a friend who has been wounded by words slung like dirt, we can slowly stand her back up, lovingly reestablish her roots in the good soil of God’s Word, gently brace her up with kindness, and water her daily with prayer. Who knows? You may even help her not only survive, but also thrive.
Thankfully, Ginger left the tree alone after that. After all—she never cared about the tree in the first place.
Lord, I want to be a comfort bringer not a dirt slinger. Give me a holy fear about speaking against Your servants, and put a guard over the door of my lips.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Read Matthew 7:3-5 and note what Jesus said about the speck in our eyes and the plank in someone else’s.
Consider memorizing an adaptation of today’s truth. Why then are you not afraid to speak against God’s servant?
More from the Girlfriends
For more on how to use our words to speak life, see my best-selling book, The Power of a Woman’s Words: How the Words You Speak Shape the Lives of Others and The Power of a Woman’s Words Bible study guide. This new edition includes a chapter on the power of a woman’s words to her adult children…it’s complicated!
© 2021 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.
We did this series with the video in our woman’s Sunday school class. It truly changed our lives. At the end of the study I gave all my girls a small bucket and filled it with round laminated bible verses (Encourage-mints) and some real ones. The study was so encouraging to me and many of the women in the class. Thank you Sharon
Thank you, Sharon for this am post!
I have a chalk board sign in my kitchen that is a modern translation of Proverbs 11:27(Anyone can find the dirt in someone: Be the one that finds the gold)”Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to one who searches for it” (NIV)
Over the years, I’ve had to distance myself from friends that love to gossip.
Gossip is one of those things that becomes a slippery slope of a house of cards; before you know it you are involved!
I pray on a regular meditation “may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord’ (Psalm 19:14)
I want to be a good representative for the “fruits of the Spirit” and be a “lantern” for Jesus.
Bless you, Sharon for passing this am blessing to me.
I love that!
Fantastic devotional, Sharon. Many places in the Bible warn us about our tongues and what we say and how not to “fling the dirt.” Unfortunately, it’s something that comes too easy for us, including myself. I am working on this because it is something God disapproves of. I pray for strength and also the wisdom to remove myself from situations that lead down this destructive path.
Thank you Sharon ! I loved this mornings devotional. Being reminded of Mariams fate really brought to my heart the grave significance of carelessly “slinging dirt” and how powerfully our Father God feels about this. I will prayerfully be asking God for his ultimate help in this daily, putting a guard on my mind, heart, and mouth.
Yep. Sin comes naturally for all of us!