She was frustrated, and so she let it be known.

That was her style, I guess. She always did seem to speak up. Outspoken is her middle name. Especially when it comes to matters concerning leadership. But this time, it was okay because she wasn’t really complaining, just venting a little bit. It was harmless; a sincere, honest question. She wasn’t trying to be funny or start any mess. She just genuinely wanted to know what was up. And who ever said that we can’t question our leaders? If they can’t take criticism, then maybe they’re not fit to lead. And she would be doggoned if she was going to follow his leadership and not have a voice about the questionable decisions he was making. She wasn’t some newbie. She knew what she was doing as well as he did.

She’s not the Church Busybody, she’s the Church Prophetess, so.. I mean, obviously she had good intentions. After all, she was a prophetess. A praiser. And he was her brother, not just some random stranger. But as she would soon learn, prophets, praisers, and family are not exempt from honoring God’s elect. Like most of us, she thought she had a right to express whatever was on her mind… until she got called into the office.

Her name was Miriam.

Her brother, Moses, married an Egyptian woman, and she questioned his decision. She did what many of us do when we have issues with our leaders: she hooked up with someone else who she knew would either share her opinion, entertain her rant, or would be persuaded to complain right along with her. She and Aaron said, “What, does God only speak to Moses? Has He not spoken to us, too??” If she’s anything like most of us, there was probably a neck roll/eye roll combo, some twisted up lips and a hand on a hip, I’m sure. The Bible says that the Lord came to where they were and called them to Him. He said, “listen here, if there are prophets around here, I will reveal myself to them in visions and in dreams. But Moses? He’s so faithful that I speak to him directly (mouth to mouth) and clearly. He sees the form of the Lord. And you weren’t afraid to speak against him??” God was angry. REALLY angry. So angry, in fact, that when He left, Miriam was afflicted with leprosy (Numbers 12).

How is it that we, “the holy and upright people of God,” manage to overlook that lesson and continue to mistreat, badmouth, criticize, dishonor, and question our leaders and their calling and anointing and gifts so FEARLESSLY? How do we show such brazen insubordination to the sent man or woman of God? And why is it that we who know the Word of God still think we have a “right” to say whatever is on our minds, however, whenever, to whomever? Sure there are those wolves in sheep’s clothing, men and women claiming to be “of God” but are really of flesh. Sadly, there are many who occupy the office of a pastor or leader, and are unworthy of honor. But when God sends one out to do His work, He will guard that one viciously. Today, I admonish you, the Christian Church, to fear God, honor His sent leaders, and grow up.

No one is exempt.

Miriam’s story makes it obvious that no one is exempt. Even prophets, apparently, will get frustrated (or envious, or be threatened by someone’s authority, jealous of their anointing or popularity) and run off at the mouth, fearlessly. But the Bible makes it clear that God will not stand for that. Don’t allow the venting and criticizing that you think is harmless and justified to land you a place in hell. Don’t stand so vehemently for holiness and righteousness and morality and cleanliness, and still end up in hell because you ran your mouth one too many times. Don’t be one of the ones to whom God says:

Yes, you prophesied in My name, yes you cast out devils in My name and did all these wonderful things in My name… but I never knew you. Now depart from Me, you worker of iniquity!”

I can hear the defense now, “but God… I’m ordained! Licensed!! I never missed Bible Study. Was on time every Sunday. Spoke in tongues seven times a day. Sis. Mary was healed when I laid hands on her! And, and, remember Bro. Ben whose cancer dried up? Remember that one I ministered to when everyone else got tired and went home? I stayed with her all night on that altar until she got her breakthrough! It’s me, Lord!!!” And He says, “I never knew you.”

How devastating.

We simply cannot continue to focus on the “big sins” and ignore the character issues. Jesus is love. Love is not gossip. Love is not bitter. Love is not hateful or hypocritical. Love is not short-tempered. Love has self-control. It doesn’t get excited and pick up the phone when sisters and brothers err. Love covers. And if you don’t show love, you don’t even KNOW God (even if you speak with tongues). Let us remember integrity. Self-control. Respect. Honor. Compassion. Let’s not perfect the appearance of Godliness (the huck, the buck, the quickening, the falling out, the crying, shouting, running, dancing, speaking in tongues) and fail to embrace the CHARACTER of Christ.

The one you attack may save your life.

One other principle from the story found in Numbers 12. Often times, the very one you attack will be the one who saves your life. After Miriam became leprous and was banished from the camp, it was Moses who interceded fervently on her behalf for God’s mercy and healing.

Let us grow in grace. Let us grow in love. Let us journey to heaven together.

Note: Sound familiar? I originally published this on my Facebook page on June 15, 2010. I’m sharing it here with minor edits.