Resentment: a biblical lesson

by | Apr 30, 2013 | 06 Articles, Faith & Life

How do you respond when life isn’t fair? It’s easy to grow frustrated with our own lot in life and resent those who seem to have it better. Consider Miriam, a prophetess who was also the big sister of Moses.

Most of the glimpses Scripture gives us of Miriam show courage and enthusiasm for God. As a child Miriam was instrumental in ensuring that baby Moses was safely placed with Pharaoh’s daughter (Exodus 2). After crossing the Red Sea, she led the people in a dance of praise to God (Exodus 15:20-21). Since she’s identified as a prophetess, presumably God used her to encourage and comfort His people during the time Moses spent in the Midian wilderness caring for his father-in-law’s sheep.

When Moses returned from his exile, his role serving God increased while Miriam’s role diminished. Eventually, she resented it.

Instead of occasional visions or dreams from God, God spoke to Moses as a man speaks to his friend, clearly and unambiguously.  Because of the newly revealed Law, the people now have an expanded knowledge of God and are not dependent on prophets like they used to be.

Prophets, like Miriam, are less necessary. And it all started with her little brother, Moses.  She vents her frustration.

1Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. 2And they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the LORD heard it.  -Numbers 12:1-2

God acted swiftly. He heard in verse 2. He called a meeting in verse 4. He chastised Miriam and Aaron verses 5-8,and He leaves in verse 9.

6And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. 7Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. 8With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” 9And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them, and he departed. 10When the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, like snow. And Aaron turned toward Miriam, and behold, she was leprous. – Numbers 12:6-10

The result of God’s intervention was the Miriam was leprous, the most feared and hated disease of the ancient world. Both Aaron and Moses pleaded for mercy and God limited her punishment. Miriam was quarantined outside the camp for seven days and then restored (Numbers 12:11-16).

Why did God act so swiftly and decisively—and seemingly so harshly?

God loved Miriam too much to ignore her problem. He wanted her to confront the bitterness darkening her heart. Leprosy does on the outside what resentment does on the inside.

  • Resentment disfigures the soul. Leprosy disfigures the body.
  • Resentment can cause others to stumble and fall, as Miriam drew Aaron into her bitterness. Leprosy made the nation stop and wait seven days for Miriam.
  • Resentment isolates us from others because we resent their gifts and their accomplishments. Leprosy forced Miriam into isolation in the wilderness.

God never promised that life would be fair. He did not promise that we would all be equally wealthy, happy or successful. But He has promised us the same Lord, the same grace and the same salvation.  When it matters, we’re equal. Nobody has more of Christ.

In the meantime, we should focus on the good and not the glory.

More on Miriam: 02 Understanding God’s Will – in the church

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