When Moses shifted his focus off God and onto what was happening around him, he sinned. First, in Egypt, he killed Pharoah's servant. Then, when he grew frustrated with the children of Israel, he struck the rock. Both times, he lost something valuable. By killing the servant, he lost the privilege of his rich home and position in Egypt, and by striking the rock, he lost the opportunity to enter the Promised Land.
Henry Blackaby says, "In his frustration at the people's irreverence, Moses committed the very same sin, blatantly disobeying God's instructions. Moses allowed his attention to shift to the behavior of others rather than focusing on the activity of God."
This can happen to us as well. Blackaby writes, "If you concentrate on people, their weaknesses, their disobedience, their lack of faith, and their stubbornness will quickly frustrate you."
How true is that? How often have you grown weary of the complaining around you and spoke in anger or lost your patience? How many times have you gotten your eyes off the Lord and acted according to what you thought best, only to see it all go up in smoke?
These thoughts revived a truth the Lord began teaching me a truth years ago. Colossians 3:24, 25 reads, "Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he that done: and there is no respect of persons."
When I was growing weary and frustrated in ministry, God asked me, "Gail, who are you serving?"
"I serve you, Lord."
"Then, keep your eyes on me and not on everyone around you. I'll take care of them. You just keep yourself in the love of God."
I can't count the times God has reminded me to get back into my place. And here's what I have learned, and learned, and learned! When my focus is on serving the Lord, I am happier, have increased strength for the ministry, serve with a better perspective, and know I am working from a place worthy of reward and pleasing to the Lord. Then, there is joy in serving Jesus.
But when I'm working from the reactions of people or my own agenda, I feel frustration, not patience; anger, not forgiveness; disappointment, not hope; and disgust, not love.
Putting it that way makes my sin easier to see and much less tasteful, doesn't it? Who wants to work with me if I operate in these negative terms? What kind of lousy leader or example am I? If I were in the people's shoes, wouldn't I want someone more positive and encouraging before me? Someone who led in love, hope, forgiveness, and patience? Someone who served Christ and enjoyed it?
Just from these thoughts, I am again reminded that the better way is God's way! Speaking instead of striking - speaking truth in love, pointing others to the same God who lovingly works with my weakness, forgives my disobedience and draws me back to hope and faith.
What about you? Do you, like Moses, strike out when the frustration gets too much? Is your service focused on the Lord Christ, or are you serving people? Serving people leads to disappointment and frustration, but serving Christ holds sure reward.