Summary: Sermon examines the benefits of humility with practical steps for walking in humiity. Moses in Niumbers 12 is given as an example of this. Jesus' teaching on the subject is also considered.
Read Text (Numbers 12)
I call your attention to verse 3 in this chapter:
“Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.”
In this story, we are given a dramatic picture of the relationship between spiritual authority and genuine humility. Moses is the most humble man on earth. He is also has more spiritual authority than anybody else on the earth. I would hope that every person in this room today wants to function in more spiritual authority. Ministry is about functioning in spiritual authority. The scribes and Pharisees had positional authority; Jesus had spiritual authority. When people heard Jesus speak, they realized there was spiritual authority behind his words. The Pharisees taught from the Old Testament; but when they spoke there was nothing behind it. I find in today’s environment, preachers can go on the Internet and find words to speak on Sunday morning. There are all kinds of good outlines and illustrations and manuscripts. What you can’t get from the Internet is spiritual authority. Saying the right words with no spiritual authority is “sounding brass and clanging cymbal.” Saying the right words does not make anybody a preacher. The spiritual authority that God entrusts the speaker with is what impacts lives.
So to really impact people’s lives we need spiritual authority—not just positional authority. I want more spiritual authority because I know that is what will really bring help to people. The question for me and for every one in this room is this: Am I willing to get that authority by humbling myself in real life situations?
Here is Miriam and Aaron wanting what Moses has. Yet the way to get that is to do the exact opposite of what they are doing. Spiritual authority is not obtained by grasping for it. It is obtaining by increased level of surrender to God. If I will surrender more of Richard Tow to God, I will exercise more spiritual authority. Why is that? Because the more I am surrendered to God, the more He can trust me to use it correctly.
Look at how Moses exercises spiritual authority in this passage.
1. He does not defend himself. He does not try to make Miriam and Aaron do what he thinks they ought to do. We don’t even see him trying to control the situation at all. What we see is this: they verbally attack Moses with their criticism. Then what follows in verse 2 are these simple words, “And the Lord heard it.” There is certain weightiness behind those simple words, “And the Lord heard it.” I don’t ever want to say anything behind closed doors that is followed by that footnote: “And the Lord heard it.” The whole context tells us that the Lord was not pleased with what He heard.
I have learned this the hard way. I can defend myself or I can let God defend me—but I can’t have it both ways. If I insist on defending myself, God will let me do just that. If I will humble myself and trust Him with it, He will defend what needs to be defended.
2. Moses prays for the people attacking him. He is not praying that God will smite them and show them that he is right—quite the opposite. When Miriam is smitten with leprosy, Moses’ response is to plead with God to heal her. Think about that for a moment. Moses does not use his spiritual authority to defend or vindicate himself; he uses it to heal the person that attacked him. This is the kind of person God can trust with spiritual authority. Jesus did the same thing. He could have called legions of angels to defend him at the cross—instead He used his authority to pray “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” When Joseph found himself in a place of power, he used that power to feed the people who had tried to kill him. Can God trust me to use spiritual authority to represent His true character of love?
In Luke 14:11 Jesus sets forth a powerful principle of life, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled (literally put down), and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” If I push myself up, God will push me down. If I humble myself, God will lift me up. 1 Peter 5:6 “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”
First question we must ask ourselves (especially when in a conflict with someone else): Do I really believe what Jesus said? Do I really believe that if I humble myself, God will in due time exalt me? Or secretly in my heart, do I believe like the world believes—that those who exalt themselves will be exalted?