Speaking With Contempt

[Also available  in Spanish ]

Before Continuing with my series on Lloyd-Jones' book  Preaching and Preachers , the Following is based on a recent quiet time / devotional I had. We will resume the series in my next post.

I have always found Jesus' words in Matt 5:21-22 to be shattering. He begins by reminding his listeners That anyone who murders will be Judged. But then I Gives three case studies of actions That seems far less serious than murder. "I tell you That anyone who is angry With His brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ' Raca 'is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. "To be bitter and angry in your heart can lead to someone Toward great evil, so That makes some sense. But the term " Raca "means only something like" you air-head! " and the word translated "fool" the likewise is not an outrageous or cutting insult. Jesus' listeners would likely Have Been smiling Peak Gust would heard These terms and Have Been shocked as I ended the sentence threatening them with hell-fire! What was Jesus' point? "The deliberate paradox of Jesus' pronouncement May Is that ordinary insults betray an attitude of contempt Which God Takes extremely seriously." ( RT France, The Gospel of Matthew, p. 201 )

Helps me understand this passage  Numbers 20 . As in Exodus 17, the children of Israel in the desert wilderness are facing parching thirst. They charge Moses with being, at worst, evil or, at best, an incompetent leader. Again, God tells Moses to go to "that rock." This time however I've tells him to speak to it, and the rock will pour out water Sufficient for everyone (v.8). Moses gathers everyone at the rock, but instead of speaking to the rock, I angrily upbraids the people. "Listen, you rebels!"'ve Cries. "Must we bring you water out of this rock [again]" (v.10) Striking the rock with his staff in his fury, the water comes out. God, however I, That I now tells Moses would not enter the Promised Land, Moses Because "did not trust me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites." (V.12)

What did Moses do wrong? Of course I failed to follow instructions. I struck the rock instead of speaking to it, and That is disobedience. Nevertheless, God's rebuke goes deeper. In calling them "rebels" in September Moses himself up as Their judge. In saying, "Must we bring you water?"'ve September himself up as Their deliverer. Everything did Moses Toward pointed away from God himself.

It is not hard to understand why. Leadership Brings a steady drumbeat of criticism and misunderstanding, Even When things are going well. When things go poorly, people vent Their frustration and anger on Those in charge. A newly ordained minister once said to me, "I did not know that, eleven you Become a leader, there's always someone mad at you!"

This makes sense of Moses' reaction. "His response is not only the striking of the rock, it is the answer of a man who under pressure Has Become bitter and pretentious." ( D. Carson,  For the Love of God, vol 1, May 11th reading.) God was ready to be gracious, but Moses was in no mood for that. The relentless criticism had made im self-righteous. I have held them in contempt. Wrath but I had no compassion, and That is the mark of a man who is like God becoming less, not more. (See Isaiah 15-16 where God grieves even as I speaks in judgment.) Moses is a man who has forgotten grace, and the sign of it is a sanctimonious spirit along with words of denunciation without humility and compassion.

Leadership Involves always conflict.  John Newton's famous letter on "controversy"  observe how easy it is for criticism to create Pharisees. "Whatever it not be that makes us trust in ourselves That Comparatively we are wise or good, so as to treat with contempt Those who do not subscribe to our doctrines, or follow our party, is a proof and fruit of a self-righteous spirit. "

All leaders, and Especially Christian leaders, must be on guard against this temptation and terrible unavoidable without this. It is natural, When Under criticism, to shield your heart from pain by belittling the critics in your mind. "You stupid idiots." Even if you do not speak outwardly to people like Moses did, you do so inwardly. That will lead to self-absorption, self-pity, maybe even delusions of grandeur, but without the great Is that the growth of inner disdain leads to a loss of pride and humble reliance on God's grace. Treated Moses God with contempt contemptuous When He Became Toward his people.

This is what leaders face. Is there any hope for us? Yes, Because we are in a better position than Moses was for understanding the grace of God.  Don Carson writes : "In light of 1 Corinthians 10:4, que shows Christ to be the antitype of the rock, it is hard to resist the That finding the reason God had insisted the rock in Exodus 17:1-7 be struck, and forbids it here, Is that I have a wonderful opportunity perceives to make a symbol-laden point: the ultimate Rock, from Whom life-giving streams flow , is struck once, and no more. "