Self-Control

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Contributed by Tim White, Next Generation Pastor at Image Church

Numbers 20:10-13Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the LORD, and through them he showed himself holy.

Here in the book of Numbers is the account of how Moses lost his opportunity to enter the Promised Land with the rest of the Israelites. What happened here that was so bad that God would punish Moses as He did? As the Israelites had done many times before this, they found themselves facing a hard situation on their journey to the land that Moses was leading them to – the land that God had promised them. They found themselves in a place with no water. The Israelites would cry out to Moses, just as they had many times before this – “Why have you brought us here to die, it would have been better for us to stay in Egypt than to have come to this place.” (Numbers 20:4-5)  Moses went to God and received instructions to gather the congregation together, to witness God’s power and grace in providing them with water – “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” (Numbers 20:8)

As God commanded, Moses gathered the congregation. But Moses failed to follow God’s directions. “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.  How did this happen?  Moses was given clear directions from God, yet he failed to follow them. Moses had lost control with the people. His anger and frustration with them had gotten the best of him. In his loss of control, he failed to obey God’s commands that would bring glory to God. Moses’ loss of control brought hardship upon himself. Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.  He now had to miss out on the Promised Land that God was giving them – the very land that Moses was leading the people to.

Throughout the month of January, our I-Kids Discovery Land classes have been studying self-control and how God desires His people to live a life with self-control – choosing to do what we should do, not what we want to do. To live a life out of control causes pain to yourself, as we see here with Moses. Losing control can cause pain to others as well, and does not reveal God to others or bring Him glory. The other day, my daughter Brianna got angry with her younger sister, and I overheard her say to her sister, “Brooke, I am so angry with you right now, but I am just going to give you a hug.” I then looked up to see Bri giving her sister a hug instead of her usual swat that would lead her to being punished herself. I have heard other great things from parents on how our children are trying to live lives with self-control, but as parents and followers of Jesus, we to need to live and example self-control in our lives as well.

God desires His people to live lives that reveals Himself to others. If we fail to live lives of self-control, we risk missing out on opportunities, as Moses did. We risk causing others not to see Jesus in us, and we risk not bringing glory to God who gives us life.

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