Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. ~1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Sometimes when we believe we are unqualified for God’s plan, it’s not because we are victim to a lie, it’s because we are looking for an excuse not to do it. Whether it be because we think it will be too hard, it seems like too big a risk, or we don’t want to give up the time necessary, it’s important to recognize our excuses as what they are: Rebellion against God.
In Exodus, God was angry at Moses because He knew when Moses said “I can’t do it,” what he really meant was “I won’t do it.” The argument wasn’t so much about Moses’s ability to complete the task as it was his willingness to be obedient. Moses was using his flaws and shortcomings as an escape hatch from God’s plan. He attempted to rationalize away his disobedience. Moses had several specific excuses he used to argue against the plan of God. They may sound familiar when we look at each one individually; many believers find themselves thinking the same things even today. Each one is canceled out by the reply of God.
1. Who am I?
But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.”
It’s easy to feel insignificant in the face of the magnitude of the command of God. “Who am I that someone would listen to me? I’m nobody. I can’t possibly be the right person for this task.” Our own importance is trivial in comparison to God’s kingdom and sometimes even in comparison to the very people we minister to.
God’s reply is that our own importance is unimportant. He is with us. We are accompanied by the God of Heaven and Earth. We are never alone in our efforts. He never leaves our side for moment! (Matthew 28:20) Just like a child facing a bully finds it easier to meet the confrontation when his buddies are with him, we have our own spiritual back-up. We have no reason to be intimidated. God Himself, with all of His power and authority, goes with us into our situation and circumstances. His presence with us gives us the ultimate confidence that we cannot fail at the task that He sets us to when we are obedient to Him.
2. What shall I say?
Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM THAT AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
Sometimes we don’t know how to go about the task God sets us to. We find ourselves looking further down the line, wondering what we should say when we haven’t even begun the first step of going to where He has told us. “What will I even say? I don’t know how I can convince this person. They’re going to have questions I don’t know how to answer!” When we look at the goals that God is setting for us to accomplish, it seems outside the realm of our capability. Our lack of knowledge can often prohibit our obedience.
God’s reply was simply – “Here’s what you will say.” When we walk in obedience to God’s plan, we are not drawing on our own knowledge, but on the knowledge and assets of the kingdom of God. We don’t have to have knowledge of what to say or do further down the line, we just have to be obedient to what God tells us. God promises that His children will be led by the Spirit. (Romans 8:14) Every step, every word can and will be dictated by the Father. He will place His words in our mouth. (Jeremiah 1:9) Our job is to remain sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the voice of God. We hear His voice by spending time in the Word and in His presence. John 10:27 says “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” God’s guidance is there for us in all things, we just have to listen and be obedient.
3. What if they won’t believe me?
Then Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’” The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.” Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.
Have you ever heard the phrase “You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink?” Even when we have the right words to speak, we can be intimidated by the opinion of others. “If I say that, will they take me seriously? Are they going to think I’m crazy? I might sound ridiculous or stupid! What if they think I’m making it up or lying?” Speaking the truth can be scary because of how it might be received or how others may view us. The error in this logic is that we think that it is our responsibility to convince someone to listen to us.
God countered this argument through action. He proved His might and power by offering Moses proof through miracles. First, He turned Moses’s staff into a serpent and back again. Next, he turned Moses’s hand leprous and then healed it. God promised another miracle of turning water to blood.
The fear of failure is overcome by the power of God. It is not our job as believers to convince anyone of the truth of God’s Word. Our job is to be obedient to the Father, speaking and doing as He instructs us to and as we respond to the leading of the Spirit, God draws people to Himself. (John 6:44) The work of convincing and convicting the hearts of men is solely possible to and under the responsibility of God. He is not dissuaded by disbelief or skepticism. He allows the choice to be made, but He is relentless in His pursuit for our hearts. Romans 8:17 says that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The word of God is alive and able to produce faith, simply by being heard and received.
It is interesting to note that God displayed His dominion over both creative and destructive power. In the miracles He showed Moses He revealed the complete authority that He possesses. In Mark 16:17-18 Jesus promises: “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” Those who believe will be accompanied by signs, wonders and miracles. It’s not just a possibility that they might be displayed. The defining mark of believers is the active power of God on display in them and through them. We are fully equipped to show proof of the power of God by allowing Him to work through us. We don’t perform the miraculous. We yield to God and He shows His power.
4. I am slow of speech and slow of tongue
Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.
Sometimes we are excruciatingly aware of our shortcomings and flaws, especially when they might be on display. “I’m not good enough to do that. I have flaws that will stand out. People will see that I am not talented or even adequate in this area. They will think someone other than me could do a better job.” Our personal flaws and deficiencies do not disqualify us from being successful when God tells us to do something.
God replies to Moses by making it clear that He is fully aware of Moses’s shortcomings. He created all men; He is intimately informed in all areas about each and every one of us. He has the power to not only create us, but to overrule us. God promised Moses that He Himself would be “with Moses’s mouth.” He expressed that although Moses identified his mouth as a weakness, God was present in that weakness with His strength. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God takes joy in using our weaknesses because His strength is made more apparent. God’s limitless power overrules any limitation that we present when it is covered by His Spirit. When we walk in obedience, our weaknesses are hidden and canceled out by His Spirit working through us. The power, strength and ability that is displayed is not our own, but God’s.
5. Please send someone else.
But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you.
After all of his previous excuses have been addressed and dismissed, the heart of Moses’s reluctance is revealed. Moses didn’t want to do it. Even after the reassurances he received and the miracles he experienced, he still wanted God to send someone else. Sometimes when God gives us a command, we offer excuses and try to justify our reasons for not obeying. Those reasons are just a dressed up way of saying “Please don’t make me do that! Send somebody else!” God was angry with Moses because Moses was not only still arguing, but baldly stating what God had known all along: Moses didn’t want to obey. He was challenging God’s position of control over his life.
It isn’t always easy to recognize rebellion when it takes root. Sometimes it can look more like reluctance than outright defiance. If we are not obeying God, we are not in submission to Him. A heart that is fully yielded to God will be obedient to the will of God. The problem we often encounter as believers is that we try to hold on to control in our lives. God has given us free will. We are free to choose to obey or disobey Him. He has a path set for us, but we get to determine whether or not we follow it for ourselves. However, the Bible says that the choice God sets before us is between life and death, blessing and curse; choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19) When we choose our own control instead of yielding to God, we are choosing death.
A task that we may think of as small or inconsequential can have devastating results when we are being disobedient. A rebellious heart can cause us to be unable to hear God when He is trying to speak to us. (Ezekiel 12:2) Even a small disobedience can lead to completely losing the guidance of God. His guidance offers protection that we find only by obeying Him. Deuteronomy 30:17-18 says “But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed.” When we choose not to obey the command of God, we are turning our heart away from Him and bringing destruction into our own lives.
How do we yield our heart to God, when we are caught in rebellion? If we realize we are acting against God or trying to hold on to control, how do we return to the plan God has set for us? If we have recognized a rebellious heart in ourselves, we have to call our actions what they truly are in God’s eyes: Sin. (1 Samuel 15:23) Our rebellious nature is only defeated through repentance.
Overcoming the Excuses
Thankfully, the grace and goodness of God is so great that even in the midst of our rebellion He offers us a way out. 1 John 1:19 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” When we repent of our sin – our wrongdoing and disobedience to God – He offers us forgiveness and accepts us wholeheartedly. When we yield to God and repent for our rebellion, He gives us a new heart and a new spirit. He replaces our rebellious heart of stone with a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26) Once our hearts have returned to their rightful place of submission to God, His command and our will become one. We act in obedience to Him because we recognize His rightful place in our life. ~Dana Smith
*Come back tomorrow for part 4 – the final post in this Study Series Overcoming An Unqualified Mindset