Miriam: Critical Spirit

by Raquel Rodriquez

While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because he had married a Cushite woman. They said, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he spoken through us, too?” But the Lord heard them. So immediately the Lord called to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam and said, “Go out to the Tabernacle, all three of you!” So they went out. Then the Lord descended in the pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the Tabernacle. “Aaron and Miriam!” he called, and they stepped forward. And the Lord said to them, “Now listen to what I say: 

“If there were prophets among you,
    I, the Lord, would reveal myself in visions.
    I would speak to them in dreams.
But not with my servant Moses.
    Of all my house, he is the one I trust.
I speak to him face to face,
    clearly, and not in riddles!
    He sees the Lord as He is.
So why were you not afraid
    to criticize my servant Moses?”
The Lord was very angry with them, and He departed. As the cloud moved from above the Tabernacle, there stood Miriam, her skin as white as snow from leprosy. Miriam was kept outside the camp for seven days, and the people waited until she was brought back before they traveled again. Numbers 12 

Miriam is Moses’ sister. She played a major role in his survival when Pharaoh’s daughter found Him in a basket. Later, alongside her now grown brother Moses, she led God’s people out of Egypt. When the parted sea collapsed on their enemies, it was Miriam who led the women in worship. Miriam as well as her brothers, Moses and Aaron, were prophets of the time. She wasn’t perfect, but she was chosen by the Lord to do great things.
As dead flies cause even a bottle of perfume to stink so a little foolishness spoils great wisdom and honor. Ecclesiastes 10:1
 
Miriam, like many of us, spoiled great wisdom and honor with just a little foolishness. Her imprudence was none other than a critical spirit. She was an expert at finding fault and focusing on it. Taking it a step further, she spoke her criticism to those around her. Out of the abundance of Miriam’s heart, her mouth spoke. (Matthew 12:34)
 
A critical person has an excessively negative attitude with harshness in judging, faultfinding, and complaining. Critics feel a sense of significance and power when they criticize. The heart of a critic is not the heart of God. “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.” Romans 12:10,13
 
Miriam isn’t the only woman I know that is critical of others. Though I considered myself to be a positive and encouraging person, God revealed an ugly side to me. I condemn people and their actions. I am harsh. I focus on faults and ridicule others. I tear people down and their opinions when they don’t meet my standards. Truth is I am a lot like Miriam. In light of all the good that God does and speaks through me, I don’t fail to throw a dash of foolishness to spoil His work.
 
God revealed my repulsive attitude through the help of a book called “Counseling through the Bible” by June Hunt, through the chapter brilliantly titled Critical Spirit. God is awesome, when He reveals wrong in us He also provides a way of escape to the path to righteousness. If you’re anything like Miriam and I, confess your sin to God and to a trust worthy friend.
 
June Hunt’s way of escape to the path of righteousness:

“Identify your shortcomings – Psalm 139:23-24

Practice compassion for others – Colossians 3:12

Draw out the heartfelt needs of others – Proverbs 20:5

Offer acceptance to others – Romans 15:7

See the God-given worth in others – Luke 12:6-7

Praise the positives in others – Philippians 4:8

Refuse to wound others with words – Colossians 3:16

See the unmet needs of others – Philippians 4:19

Rely on God’s Word and God’s Spirit for wisdom – 1 Corinthians 2:13

 

Is there anything that could totally eradicate all judgmental attitudes–every single critical spirit? Yes! If every person would live out these few words of Jesus: ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you’ Matthew 7:12.”

 
I believe that God makes all things new. I believe that a critical spirit can be redeemed into a caring spirit, when aligned with God’s Word and controlled by His Spirit.
 
 How do you guard yourself from being critical of others?

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