Sometimes we can be “righteous” in everything we say and do, but the motivations of our hearts are nothing less than prideful. Moses was right to defend his Hebrew brethren, but he took it too far when he murdered the Egyptian and stuffed his body in the sand. Zipporah was right to save her husband’s life, but she took it too far when she rubbed his nose in the error of his neglect.
Does being a bully edify others when we merely ‘show off’ our God-given knowledge? I doubt it. We can spout truly righteous things, but when our delivery is cruel and pointed, it falls on deaf ears.
How do we remedy this righteous bully that dwells within us?
If we “follow the way of love,” and as prescribed by Paul, we won’t make these mistakes so often. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…1st Corinthians 13:4-8 niv 1984
Love is a “fruit” of the spirit, not a “gift.” (Galatians 5) Love is an action, a choice, and a decision and if we are walking in the spirit, we can make better decisions than the one I made at dinner that night. (See Part 2 of this series.)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” Galatians 5:22-26 niv 1984
I need to memorize that and pray it for myself every day!
Back to Moses and Zipporah…
Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. Exodus 18:1 niv 2011
Here’s the question I have about the previous verse: How in the world did Jethro hear about everything God had done? At this point in our Biblical history there are no cellphones, no email – not even the pony express. The question is answered in the very next verse.
2 After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro received her Exodus 18:2 niv 2011
Somewhere between you bridegroom of blood and Mt. Sinai, there’s been an obvious healing between Moses and Zipporah. He trusted her enough to send her back to her father and report all that was happening to the Israelites – and she reported it in a positive way. How did that happen? I don’t know, but what I do know for sure is that after you bridegroom of blood, there is not a single word from Zipporah ever recorded in the Scriptures. I can’t help but wonder if she won him over without words. Perhaps Zipporah’s vicious outburst against her husband convicted her – so much so that Moses was won over without words by the behavior of his wife, when he saw the purity and reverence of her life. She had to make a conscience choice to do that – she had to make some decisions that were probably uncomfortable. Holding my tongue is sometimes agony for me.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:4-6 niv 2011
In Zipporah’s gentleness he knew he could trust her to get the right word back to Jethro.
I think we often forget the power of being gentle and kind. We get so caught up in the righteousness of the situation that we default to human emotions rather than practice God-given logic.
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 esv
I’m convinced that Zipporah’s kindness and gentleness brought deep contentment into her relationship with Moses – so much so that God stepped in and protected a decision that Zipporah’s father had influenced. And, in a broader sense, protected the marital relationship as well.
Moses’ sister Miriam and his brother Aaron (in-laws to Zipporah) were upset about the influence that Zipporah’s father had on him. In Numbers 11, Jethro advises Moses to appoint seventy rulers to help him lead the Israelites…and apparently, Miriam and Aaron were not part of those people chosen. In their jealousy they turn into a couple of seditious gossips (Numbers 12). Moses was a tender and kind individual by this time, yet Miriam and Aaron complain about their brother, and even the color of Zipporah’s skin!
Our God is furious with them, and he calls them out to the tent of meeting, where He punishes Miriam (obviously the instigator), turning her skin as white as snow with leprosy. Moses prays for her and Aaron’s forgiveness, and it is granted.
Nowhere in this account of Moses and Zipporah’s bashing is there a single word spoken by Zipporah. I think she’d matured to a place where she called on God for His intercession. Instead of making things worse by striking out in her own defense – which would have been completely righteous – she waits on God and He takes care of the matter in fine style.
22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2nd Timothy 2:22-26 esv
A warrior must be kind, plain and simple. If we want to be an effective influencer in our families, friendships and ministries, we must be kind.
Next week we’ll take a look at two more warriors, Deborah and Jael, a couple of women who knew exactly what to do at just the right time!
© 2108, Ta`Mara Hanscom
If you’re interested in my fiction, you can get the first 4 chapters of The Pretender here: www.TaMaraHanscomBooks.com