Have you ever hurt your neck and you aren’t sure how it happened? I experienced that firsthand a couple of weeks ago. I was minding my business, backing out of an ordinary parking space, and a searing pain shot through my neck. It penetrated deep into the tissue and bone. Immediately, my neck was so stiff, I couldn’t turn to the right or left. As I drove home, I had to reposition my entire body in order to make safe right and left turns. For several days, I could only look straight ahead. Driving, sleeping, and working was difficult. Thank goodness it only lasted a few days.
While my stiff neck was healing, I thought about God’s description of His own people. In Exodus 32, Israel had sinned big time when they built a golden calf to worship. Their idolatry caused God’s anger to burn against them and He said to Moses, (v. 9) “I have seen this people and behold they are a stiff-necked people.”
God describing His people as stiff-necked was not a compliment. This word is defined: obstinate, stubborn, willful, rebellious, unruly, and ornery. It means a person has a major attitude problem and an unwillingness to be led. Over and over in scripture God describes His disobedient nation in this unbecoming, uncomplimentary way. In my imagination, I think of a stubborn old goat that refuses his masters leading when I hear this term.
I never want another stiff neck physically but more than that, I don’t want the Lord to describe me in this way. A stiff neck happens when we become hardened to the master’s leading and so certain of self, that we are not easily guided back on the path of spiritual wholeness and wellness.
A spiritual stiff neck is a result of pride. So what’s the remedy for this? It’s simple, give your situation over to the Lord. Ask Him to work the kinks out of your life. It might be painful for a time but, He is a gentle healer.
Have you ever read one short sentence in the Bible and the Lord lifts it straight off the pages and aims His Word directly at your heart? That happened to me on Sunday. Five little words got my attention. “…And the Lord heard it.” (Numbers 12:2)
When Miriam and Aaron spoke against their brother (Moses) for marrying a Cushite woman, “the Lord heard it.” What did the Lord do when He heard their criticism? Well, what would any loving father do? The Lord called an immediate family meeting and He met with all three siblings at the doorway of the tent. He gave Miriam and Aaron a huge piece of His holy mind (Numbers 12:6-8). His anger burned against them as He defended His servant Moses. He left Miriam with a visual aid to help her remember. When the Lord withdrew His presence, Miriam was as white as snow with leprosy. She was kept away from others, isolated outside the camp for seven days. Then, the Lord healed her as a result of Moses’ prayer.
How did Miriam get to this place of sin? This is the same Miriam who led worship after the Lord dried up the Red Sea. (Exodus 15:20-21). The same Miriam that once had lips filled with praise used the same mouth as a weapon against her brother.
Isn’t that just like us as women? We use so many words. One minute our mouths are praising and building up and the next minute they are criticizing and tearing down? I’ve fallen prey to women using hurtful critical words. Being a non-confrontational person, I embrace the situation by not saying a word and stuffing it deep down within my heart knowing that ultimately the Lord will deal with it. BUT NOW! NOW, I know that when someone criticizes, gossips, or murmurs against me, I can know for sure the Lord will hear it.
Somehow that gives me great comfort. Maybe the next time I am confronted with undeserved criticism, I will whisper to the Lord (as I turn and walk away) Hey Jesus, did you hear that?
Have you ever been the victim of unwarranted verbal criticism? How did you respond? How will you respond now? How carefully do you weigh your words? What will you remember when you are tempted to murmur and criticize another?
Heavenly Father, Guard our lips and let no unwholesome words proceed from our mouths, help us to use our words in a manner that honors others and glorifies you. (Ephesians 4:29) In Jesus Name, Amen
archived devotionals: http://circleofsavings.com/Devotional.aspx