Please read Numbers 12:1-15. It is a story, easy to read. Take the time and check it out.
In our story we find that Miriam had a problem. She dabbled in slander and complaint. The result isn’t pretty.
And then the whole camp had a problem. That’s the way it is with slander and complaint — it defiles, it harms, it debilitates. The result isn’t pretty.
How did this happen? Why? Well, let’s start at the very beginning.
Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses. Why would they do such a thing? It may have started with envy. We discover a tad bit of jealousy in their complaint: “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?”
Poor Miriam. She’s been bitten with envy. James doesn’t have much good to say about that. “For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every kind of evil.” James 3:16 NLT
Imagine that — every kind of evil. Yikes!
Miriam and Aaron are entertaining jealousy, a dangerous thing to do. So what do they decide to do? They find some truth about Moses to complain about. Probably not hard to do. There is always something to complain about if we look.
They spoke truth. Moses had indeed married an Ethiopian woman. But were they merely citing fact or was this “a malicious verbal attempt to discredit another”?
First thing to acknowledge: not all truth needs to be spoken. How often do we say (as we share a juicy tidbit,) “Well, I know this for a fact…” So what? Maybe it’s best for all involved to keep that fact to yourself! Wisdom and love might dictate silence. Just take a deep breath and think first about whether this item of truth needs to be shared here and now.
Miriam wanted others to see her as important. She was struggling with jealous pride. Such pride can be deceiving (imagine that…) It may appear as innocent, shy, even self-sacrificing. It is actually self-serving — always. Miriam intended harm to Moses’ reputation. She was not looking to bring legitimate correction to a problem. This was base slander.
In spite of the truth of their allegation, does their complaint agree with God’s view of Moses? Our passage tells us that Moses was more humble than all men on the earth; God calls him “faithful in all my house.” We best take care when we speak against one of God’s own children. That doesn’t go over very well with our Daddy. (Aren’t you glad?!)
God hates gossip and slander.
If you want to hate what He hates, hate gossip.
What was the outcome of this slander?
1. Miriam was smitten with leprousy. God judged her harshly. She became an example to others that they might see how much He hates this and how wrong it is. It is this simple: slander is harmful and He doesn’t want us to touch it.
2. The whole congregation was detained, held back, unable to progress. Slander in our midst — gossip amongst the ranks — is detrimental to the whole. The work of God is hindered in His people through jealous, tainted words of gossip.
Paul told Titus to find older women who are not slanderers. There was good reason. Paul and Titus were looking to see the Kingdom advanced and healthy local churches established for the work of the ministry. Keeping uncontrolled sin out was, and is, vital.
Put away slander and gossip. Recognise it for the poison that it is. Don’t spread it, don’t partake of it. Hate it as God hates it.