What kind of influence do you think that you are projecting in your life? Is your influence positive or negative upon those around you? Certainly, there are daily and moment by moment opportunities for us to be a positive influence upon others. However, we sometimes allow our life problems or situations to affect our words, behaviors, and attitude toward those around us, thus projecting a negative influence instead. For, when we have a negative attitude, speak negative words, or behave in an un-Christian way, we will certainly have a negative influence upon those around us. Obviously, that saddens Christ, because we are supposed to represent Christ by shining our Christ-light out into the world. Therefore, our Christian influence should be a positive influence projecting truth, honesty, love, kindness, caring, etc.
We each have the opportunity to be a positive influence on another person. In fact, in the last few blogs I have talked about the influence that just one woman can have on many different people from her friends, family, and extended family to her associates on the job and people within her church as well as on complete strangers. During this time, we have discovered that we can also have a passive influence on others with just our overall attitude, behaviors or words that people over hear and see. Or we can have an active influence, whereby we actively engage in our relationships with others including the relationship of active mentoring. In fact, it is during our active mentoring, family interactions, work-related interactions, and church-related interactions as well as within many other interactive relationships that we have a great opportunity to be a positive influence on those around us. But, whether it is a passive or active influence that we are projecting, it should always be the kind of influence of which Christ would approve. Certainly all Christians should hope that they are providing positive and not negative influence.
Our positive Christian influence, can illuminate Christianity and its Truth for those who have yet to come to know Christ as their Savior. But if we are creating a negative Christian influence, we are dimming our Christian light and undermining the Truth of the Gospel message. This means that those who have yet to come to know Christ as their Savior, may hesitate, because our example of living for Christ provides a negative influence whether done passively or actively. This is why Christians should stop every once in a while and take a look at their life through God’s eyes to determine if we are truly shining our godly Christian influence on those around us. For, sometimes if Christians do not stay in the Word, do not fail to stay in close fellowship with the Lord, and do not disassociate themselves from the temptations of the world, then they can gradually slip back into the ways of the world, as they accept the influence of the world around them. At that point, the Christian is no longer having a positive influence upon others.
It is so easy to succumb to the world around us by allowing greed, jealousy, personal problems, etc. to color our attitudes, behaviors, and emotional responses, which can then lead to a negative influence on others. Therefore, it is especially important to not allow our negative or ungodly attitudes to produce a negative image of what Christianity in the eyes of unbelievers. For, if unbelievers see that a particular Christian is acting just like the rest of the world, or that this “so-called Christian” is acting worse than the secular world, there is little positive influence that this Christian can have upon them. Furthermore, through secular eyes, this particular Christian’s attitude, behavior, etc. is no different from those who do not have Christ as their Savior, and in the unbeliever’s eyes it may seem to be even worse, which actually leads to a negative influence on the unbeliever.
Becoming a Positive Influence
What then creates a positive Christian influence on our mentees and those around us? Well first of all, the word “Christian” implies that one is actually “Saved”. But that isn’t always the case. Anyone can claim to be a Christian. But to be a true “born-again” Christian a person must ask Christ into her heart after truly repenting of her sins and asking for God’s forgiveness. Then many things will begin to occur to assure the individual that she is indeed “Saved”. First, the Holy Spirit indwells the individual. There is then the immediate soul, mind and heart knowledge that Christ has indeed forgiven her of her sins, along with the assurance that she will spend Eternity in Heaven with God and His Son. Secondly and just as important, is her immediate desire to do the will of God and grow closer to Him. From where does this desire emanate? Well, it comes from the Holy Spirit, Who is now indwelling her heart and soul. Through the Holy Spirit’s direction and guidance, the “Saved” person comes to desire to know as much as she can about God and His Truth, His Commandments, and His Promises. But in order to do that, she has to study the Word of God and fellowship with other Christians to gain godly knowledge, to stay accountable to God and to be obedient to His Word. Just as importantly, this newly “Saved” person should want to obtain the Fruit that the Holy Spirit, by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in her life.
The Apostle Paul in speaking to the Galatians said that if a “born-again” Christian will allow the Holy Spirit to direct her life, “…He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. … Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or irritate one another, or be jealous of one another.” – (Galatians 5: 22-26. NLT). But, in order to acquire this kind of fruit, we must allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and follow His guidance. In other words, we should want to develop those nine fruit attributes in our lives so that we are more like Christ. For these nine fruit attributes are actually the characteristics of Christ. By allowing the Holy Spirit to help us develop these attributes, we are able to not only come closer to God, but we can have a positive influence on our mentees and others around us as our lives become a reflection of Christ’s light.
Most people think that once they are truly “Saved” they don’t need to do anything else. But, as followers of Christ we are to emulate His characteristics and shine Christ’s light on the rest of the world. Unfortunately, we all have to contend with our own personalities, our specific characteristics, our personal desires, and even contend with the strongholds that hold our hearts and minds hostage with fear or hurt. In fact, no matter how long we have lived, we will each have to contend with the hurts, trials, and obstacles that we have faced. Yet, all these things help to develop our character and form our attitude toward today and tomorrow. However, once we ask Christ to come in to our lives, we no longer have to be held hostage by our personal desires, strongholds, and past negative experiences.
We can actually overcome the negatives in our life by focusing on truly living for Christ and developing the characteristics of Christ in our own life. But, to do that, we need to work on our own character and try to shape it into a closer picture of Christ’s character as seen within the Fruit of the Spirit. Truth be known, we are all a work in progress, which means that we are to constantly try to be the best that we can be for God, for ourselves, for our family, and “yes” for those that we encounter.
This brings me back to the positive influence that a Christian woman can have or not have on those she encounters. Every day of our lives God gives true “born-again” Christians the ability to have a positive influence on those around us. Our positive influence, however, has at its foundation living for God, knowing what God’s commands and laws are, and then living by them, as we develop the ability to stand for Truth, honesty, and integrity, while living with love in our hearts. To do this, we may need to change our attitude, use better and kinder words, and behave in a way that creates in others a feeling of security and love as we project a positive influence on those we encounter.
In order to be a positive influence Christians cannot lie, be dishonest, or prideful. Rather, we need to have integrity, and base everything in our lives on God’s truth and love. Moreover, self-promotion, pridefulness, and the desire to be better than other people or to think that you are, is a surefire way to not only make enemies, but disrespect the Words of Christ. For, unless we become humble and aware of our personal actions, words, and attitudes, we can actually become a negative influence on another and present a negative perception of what a Christian is. That is why we must be aware of our influence on those around us and be mindful to always try to be a positive influence.
The Bible gives us God’s Story, which is the story of His love, interaction, and fellowship with His creation. Indeed, God always has our best interest in His heart, but He also knows that we are a stubborn and hard-hearted people. Additionally, God gave us a “free will”, but in using our “free will” we sometimes allow the fallen world and the negatives in our lives to dictate to us how we act. Ultimately, we have control over all our actions, however, we often choose to allow the negative aspects of our personality and character to control our lives rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us into better actions, words, and behaviors that are based upon God’s love and His sacrifice of Christ to “Save” us.
There is a story from God’s Word that demonstrates not only the influence that one woman can have on the life of another person, but it also demonstrates how we can allow our personal jealousies, greed, and desire for self-promotion to have a negative influence on the lives of others. This story is about Miriam. In the case of Miriam, she even succumbed to the devil’s temptation of self-promotion instead of godly mentoring at a time when godly mentoring was desperately needed.
Miriam was the older sister of Moses, who delivered the Israelite people from their oppression in Egypt. Miriam and Moses’ story is in many ways intertwined, and their story together starts in Egypt in 1526 B.C. At that time, the Israelites or Hebrew people had been living in Egypt about 350 years. The first 300 years the Hebrew people prospered and their numbers grew as they farmed the land. But then a new Pharaoh came into power who was afraid of the large number of Hebrews living in His Land, even though they were not actually living among the Egyptians. They were living on an area of land called Goshen within Egypt that provided the water and grass for their herds of sheep and cattle. But, this new Pharaoh did not care that they had never demanded anything from the previous Pharaohs, He was only concerned with the large number of foreign people living in His land; afraid that the Hebrew/ Israelite people could rise up and overthrow the Egyptians, because there were so many of them. So, Pharaoh decided to make the Israelite people slaves and to oppress them. But as the numbers of Israelite people continued to grow, slavery and oppression was not enough. So to stop the Hebrews from multiplying, Pharaoh decided to kill all newborn baby boys by having them thrown into the Nile River. Enter Miriam and Moses.
We don’t know how old Miriam was when her brother, Moses, was born, but she was probably at least nine years old or older. We do know, though, that Miriam, even at her early age, would not only become a major influence on one Egyptian woman, but Miriam would also literally “stand in the gap” against any evil that might befall her brother. For, Moses and his family were now affected by the official order from Pharaoh to kill all Hebrew newborn babies by throwing them into the Nile River. Little did she know, but Miriam was chosen by God to protect her new brother, Moses, and chosen to influence the outcome of the Moses’ dire situation by influencing just one Egyptian woman, even though Miriam was not yet an adult.
This story starts when Moses’ mother, Jochebed, decided she could not allow her baby to be killed. She had to do something. Perhaps Jochebed thought that another Egyptian woman might be willing to take her son and raise him as her own. But if so, Jochebed had to quickly realize that no Egyptian woman would disregard Pharaoh’s orders to protect a Hebrew baby. It must have been then that Jochebed remembered that there was a place along the Nile River where the more prestigious or royal Egyptian women came to bathe. What if she made or got a basket of papyrus reeds and put the baby in the basket near where the women bathed? Would one of the women of royalty find the basket and take her son to raise? It was her only chance to save her baby. So, Jochebed and her daughter, Miriam, got the basket and she waterproofed it with tar and pitch.
Jochebed placed Moses in the basket and with tears in her eyes she then placed the basket in the Nile River among the reeds at the bank of the river near the bathing area for the royal Egyptian women. Then, Miriam stood at a distance out of sight to watch over her baby brother and to see what would happen to him. Soon Pharaoh’s daughters and their attendants came to bathe. One of the Pharaoh’s grown daughters saw the basket in the reeds and asked one of her attendant women to go and get the basket and bring it to her. When the princess opened the basket she saw a beautiful baby boy, and his helpless cries touched her heart. Although, she immediately knew that this baby had to belong to one of the Hebrew women, she did not want him to come to harm. The princess wanted to keep him, but how would she care for him? For, he needed a mother’s milk.
At about that same moment in the princess’s thinking, Miriam approached the princess and asked, “Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women that she may nurse the child for you? Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Go ahead.’ So, the girl (Miriam) went and called the child’s mother. Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take the child away and nurse him for me and I will give you your wages.’ So, the woman (Jochebed, i.e. Moses’ mother) took the child and nursed him.”. – (Exodus 2: 7-9. NASB). How amazing! God helped Jochebed come up with a plan to save her child and save the one whom God would use as a deliverer for the Israelite people. The irony in this plan is that Jochebed ended up getting paid for nursing her own child. But, none of this would have happened had Miriam not approached the princess.
Can you see the influence that Miriam had on Pharaoh’s daughter’s life and on the life of her brother? Miriam was able through her kind words, to suggest that Pharaoh’s daughter might need a wet-nurse for this baby. Obviously, too, Miriam arrived at just the right moment to ask the needed question as well, and she obviously wasn’t afraid to step forward to do so. I hope that you can see, too, the providence of God’s hand in getting Miriam to help in the saving of her brother.
But, that wasn’t all that Miriam did at that time. For, Miriam, had literally “stood in the gap” or in this case stood as a watcher to protect the safety of her baby brother, so something bad did not happen to him. Sometimes, “standing in the gap” for another person means more than just praying for them. For, sometimes it also means taking action to prevent something negative from happening or to prevent the emotional turmoil and frustration that can occur in having to deal with a situation by yourself.
One example of that type of “standing in the gap” for today comes from a friend of mine who, while we were team mentoring another woman, found out that our mentee had to be in court for a hearing to try to get back her children or at least try to be able to see them part time. Although I couldn’t go, my friend, offered to go to court with our mentee to give her moral support and to pray while she was actually in the proceedings. This type of literal “standing in the gap” is extremely important to those who are fighting spiritual battles. Certainly, it was very important that Miriam had been able to watch out for or “stand in the gap” for her brother that day, or she wouldn’t have been able to suggest a wet-nurse and influence Pharaoh's daughter in actually choosing Moses’ mother as the wet-nurse.
The Scriptures do not tell us how long Jochebed, Moses’ mother, was able to keep Moses at home with her and their family after she started again nursing Moses. But, we do know that during that time period, babies were often nursed from birth and up to ages 2 through 4. So, Moses could have been nursed until he was 4 years old. (Babies and toddlers got most of their nourishment from their mother’s milk, which we also now know today gave them immunity from many sicknesses.). During this time period, Moses mother was able to influence his life. She would have been able to teach him the Hebrew language, the feasts the Hebrews celebrated, and the general life-style of living in an ordinary slave family that believed in God. That positive influence from his family would last through his growing up years and into adulthood. Do you have a positive influence on your family as Jochebed did?
When Moses was finally weened, Jochebed turned Moses over to the Pharaoh’s daughter to raise. For, the Scriptures tell us that “Later, when he was older, the child’s mother brought him back to the princess (Pharaoh’s daughter), who adopted him as her son. The princess named him Moses, for she said, ‘I drew him out of the water’.” – (Exodus 2:10. NLT). Now, it would be the daughter of Pharaoh who would influence Moses regarding royalty, wealth, prestige, self-importance, etc. Indeed, Moses had everything he could have ever wanted including great opportunities to do things that others could not do. In fact, Moses had everything a human at that time period could want or need including the best education. This great education would greatly contribute to Moses becoming Israel’s perfect deliverer from slavery and oppression. For, the mathematical and leadership skills as well as his previous knowledge of some of the territory that they would go through to get to The Promised Land, would unquestionably be of great value to Moses. So, Pharaoh’s daughter not only raised Moses, but gave him the knowledge and skills that Moses would need to fulfill God’s command. She, too, had great influence on the man that Moses grew up to be.
God used Moses and His Influence to Deliver the Israelites from Egypt
Many people as well as many situational things in life contribute to our actions, to our beliefs, and to the development of our character. Moses’ life was no exception. Although he had seen both worlds, the world of royalty and the one of a close bound Hebrew family, it would be many years later before Moses saw with his own eyes how oppressed the Israelites truly were. When he saw the oppression and then saw the particular beating of one man, Moses allowed his anger to get the better of him. He killed an Egyptian overseer and buried him in the sand. But someone saw him. Once Moses knew that he had been discovered as a killer, Moses had to flee the palace and all of Egypt to save his life. So, he fled to Midian where he was influenced by the priest of Midian as well as by the people that he lived around. For, they taught Moses how to live off the land. He even married a Midianite woman. But, since this story is about Miriam, I will let you read on your own about those forty years of Moses’ life out in the land of Midian (see Exodus 2: 15 thru chapter 4).
During the time period of those forty years, we do not know what Miriam was doing or how she was fairing, because the Scriptures do not tell us. Actually, the next time we meet Miriam is at the Red Sea. So, let’s take up this story again at the end of Moses’ forty years in Midian and after God spoke to Moses in a burning bush and told him to go back to Egypt to deliver the Israelites from their oppression and to take them to The Promised Land. For, after Moses left Midian he and his brother Aaron obeyed God’s command and went to Pharaoh. They told Pharaoh that God said, “Let my people go!” However, Pharaoh did not want the Israelite people to leave his country, because he would lose many slaves. But finally, after receiving ten plagues from God’s hand, and after losing his son in the last plague, Pharaoh said the Hebrew people could leave.
Quickly and faithfully following God’s instructions, the Israelite people grabbed their belongings as well as many precious gold items that the Egyptians gave them to get them leave, and then they, along with some of the other Egyptians as well, followed Moses to the Red Sea. But, Pharaoh had again lied about letting them go, and now he and all his army and chariots were barreling down upon the people with nothing but the Red Sea in front of them. The Israelites were trapped! Why would God give Moses instructions that placed them in such danger?
Nevertheless, God had a plan. So, God told Moses to take his staff – “… hold it out over the water, and a path will open up before you through the sea. Then all the people of Israel will walk through on dry ground. Yet, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will follow the Israelites into the sea. Then I will receive great glory at the expense of Pharaoh and his armies, chariots, and charioteers. When I am finished with Pharaoh and his army, all Egypt will know that I am the LORD!” – (Exodus 14: 16-18. NLT). Remarkably, when Moses did as he was told, the sea opened up with tall walls of water on either side of a pathway through the sea. Then the Israelites hurriedly walked through the dry pathway on the sea ground.
Finally, all the Israelites were on the other side of the sea and on land. When the Egyptian army saw what the Israelites had done, they followed the Israelites into the pathway between the tall walls of water. Then, with all the Israelites standing safe on the other shore, the Lord told Moses to raise his staff over the sea again. Moses did as he was told. Suddenly, as Pharaoh and His entire army of chariots and charioteers were driving their chariots and hurriedly walking on the sea floor, the tall walls of water on both sides of them suddenly dropped and flooded over them; killing every Egyptian there. The Israelites then praised God for His salvation.
Miriam the Prophetess.
The Israelites certainly went from sheer terror to the most ultimate high in knowing that they had been saved by the hand of Almighty God. Suddenly, the people started singing and praising the Lord for what He had done to save them from the Egyptians. “Then Miriam, the prophet (prophetess), Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine and led all the women in rhythm and dance. And Miriam sang this song: ‘I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously; He has thrown both horse and rider into the sea.’” – (Exodus 15: 20, 21. NLT). What an awesome example of the power of Almighty God and a beautiful example of His love for His people. Indeed, God would receive great glory for His saving act of love throughout the centuries!
There are many famous songs in the Bible often accompanied by musical instruments. With these songs, the Israelites also often used dance as a way to demonstrate to the LORD just how happy and appreciative a person or group of people were at being the recipients of God’s grace, protection and love. So, on that day Miriam led the women in song and dance to demonstrate their thankfulness and to give praise to the Lord for saving them.
The Bible calls Miriam a prophetess, perhaps because she was in close contact with God at this time, or because God gave her the specific words to the song that she sang to praise Him. She may have even given others prophetic words from God, although specific prophetic words are not recorded in the Bible. But the Bible does say that she was a prophetess.
At this time, Miriam was someone that the Israelite women could look up to for strength. In fact, Miriam had a golden opportunity to be an active relational mentor to many women throughout the camp. Unfortunately, we do not know if she ever used her prophetic ability to help or mentor other women. However, we do know that Miriam began to allow jealousy, greed, and pridefulness to dictate what she should do and say, rather than turning to God for her strength. Obviously, in being a prophetess she could have turned to God for direction for her life; asking God what He would have her do relationally within this huge crowd that was well over half women. But, for some reason, Miriam did not use her abilities to strengthen the Israelite women.
Not Allowing the Negatives in Life to Control Us
As we well know, there are many things in life that can be the catalyst for our future growth. Some of those things can be positive situations and events while others can have a negative effect, which ultimately damages our outlook on life, if we allow it. This is when we need to turn to God for an attitude adjustment, which can only happen with a personal desire to change and by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in our lives to promote the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is actually the characteristics of Christ that all Christians should have. Moreover, we should use the positive things in our lives as a catalyst for future grown instead of the negative things.
In Miriam’s case, she did not have the best background to give her the best outlook on life. Remember, the Israelites, which included Aaron and Miriam, where living under oppression in Egypt. Then, after Miriam’s influence helped her baby brother survive Pharaoh’s decree on the death of all infants, she went back to her regular slave life. During those first few years of Moses’ life while in their home, Miriam would have seen and been with her baby brother. But, then came the day when Moses was turned over to the daughter of Pharaoh to live in luxury and receive anything that he wanted. That had to be hard for Miriam to understand. How could Moses end up in the lap of luxury and she and her family remain basically slaves to Pharaoh? So, besides the hard life that she lived, there had to be the thoughts of jealousy and unfairness, as she perhaps dreamed of fame and fortune for herself.
Throughout the Bible we have seen that God can use anyone to accomplish His will. Furthermore, since God knows the hearts of everyone, He can choose the right person for a particular situation or needed job, which was exactly the case when God chose Moses to be the one to deliver his people from their oppression. But God also chose to use Miriam to be the one to protect her baby brother, so he could grow up to become the Israelite’s deliverer. Then later, God chose Miriam to lead the women in song, dance, and praise after God had given them a way to cross the Red Sea. Both Moses and Miriam were accomplishing God’s will.
Although each of us has a particular purpose in life, and more specifically a particular purpose in the Kingdom of God after we have accepted Christ as our Savior, we still have the free will to choose to follow our purpose or to ignore that purpose for our own desires. Perhaps God had chosen Miriam to save her brother and to be not only a prophetess, but to be a mentor to other people as well. Unfortunately, Miriam allowed her personal desires and the negative events in her life to control her mind and thus limit the amount of positive influence that she had on those around her.
Miriam’s Failure to have a Positive Influence on her Brother
After Moses led Israelites from the Red Sea, they traveled two months, and with God’s help even overcame enemies who wanted to kill them (See Exodus 17: 8-15) as well as other obstacles along the way. Furthermore, God provided for their personal needs with food, i.e. manna from heaven, and for water when no water seemed to be available. So, there should not have been any reason for the people to distrust or question God and their leader, Moses, who had miraculously gotten them through the Red Sea. Certainly, they had to know that God was caring for them. However, when someone is out of sight, that someone is often out of the person’s mind. This was certainly the case after the people got to their encampment at the base of Mount Sinai.
When the Israelites got to this holy mountain, Moses went up the mountain and conferred with God. God then told Moses “‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I brought you to myself and carried you on eagle’s wings. Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the nations of the earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be to me a kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ Give this message to the Israelites.” – (Exodus 19: 4-6. NLT). So, Moses went down the mountain and told the people what God had said.
Then God called Moses and Aaron along with several of the leaders of the twelve tribes to come up the mountain with him. But they only went half way up the mountain together when they stopped and camped. “There they saw the God of Israel. Under His feet there seemed to be a pavement of brilliant sapphire, as clear as the heavens. And though Israel’s leaders saw God, He did not destroy them. In fact, they shared a meal together in God’s presence.” – (Exodus 24: 10, 11. NLT).
Then the Lord called Moses to come up to the top of the mountain alone. But before he went, Moses told his brother, Aaron, that he and Hur were to take care of any problems that might come up while Moses was on the mountain. Moses must have felt that he was leaving the people in good hands because both Aaron and Hur had just shared a meal together in the presence of God. Certainly, one would think that after eating in the presence of God that Aaron would have been amazed and over the moon at having been in the presence of God. But, more importantly, Aaron actually experienced being in presence of God rather than just having the experience of hearing a voice out of the cloud by day, or out of the pillar of fire that guided them at night. This experience should have been the catalyst for a relationship with God. For, Aaron’s mountain experience allowed him to truly commune with God. Sadly, having had that personal experience with God did not seem to make a difference in the life of Aaron. For, while Moses was on top of the mountain both Aaron and Miriam, would let down Moses and God.
While Moses was on the mountain the second time talking to God and receiving the Ten Commandments, the large group of people at the bottom of the mountain, which included the thousands of Egyptians who came out of Egypt with the Israelites, felt abandoned by Moses, as he had been gone many days. So, the people came to Aaron and said, “… make us some gods who can lead us. This man Moses, who brought us here from Egypt, has disappeared. …” – (Exodus 32: 1. NLT).
Having seen God a few days before, one would think that Aaron would have told the people to just wait a little longer. Aaron could also have told the people that God would not share His glory with any false gods. But Aaron did not do that. Instead, Aaron collected gold from the people and he made them a golden calf to worship. It is at this point that one would think that Hur or even Miriam might have had some influence on Aaron and stopped him from sinning against God. But, neither Hur or Miriam are even mentioned? Why did Miriam not try to stop her brother? Where was this prophetess, who had earlier worshipped and glorified God on the banks of the Red Sea? She, too, should have known that God would not share His glory with any other. What kind of influence could she have had on her brother? At the very least, Miriam could have told Aaron to wait for Moses’ return. But, she evidently didn’t.
Have you ever been in a situation where you should have stood up for God? Perhaps, it was a situation that did not directly have to do with God, yet it had to do with one of God’s commandments that he has given us to uphold? Whether it is telling another person that they should not do something, because it is wrong, or it is simply removing ourselves from an ungodly situation, we have all been there. Unfortunately, we may not stand up for God, simply because we may not want the other person to think that “we are holier than thou”, or we may just want to be liked, so we don’t say anything. Either way, we are sinning and failing to be a positive influence on those around us. Furthermore, in such cases, we may even be a negative influence upon the person that is actually doing something wrong, because we have accepted her wrong attitude or actions. But, if we as Christians, do not stand up for God’s Truth, Laws, and Commandments, then who will?
Being a positive influence upon another person means that we not only separate ourselves from situations that are ungodly, but we gently and kindly tell the other person why. Being a positive influence also means that we do not talk about others or gossip. Additionally, it means that we tell the Truth even when the Truth is not wanted. Furthermore, being a positive influence means that we stand up for what is right in the face of wrong. The key, though, is to be that positive influence; demonstrating kindness and caring while showing heart concern and love toward those who may even question our Christian life-style.
At this point in God’s Story, Miriam should have at the very least, talked to her brother to remind Aaron that he was to be the leader while Moses was away and that being a leader means standing up for what is right. She should have advised Aaron that a leader does not give into people just to keep the peace. But, it doesn’t appear that Miriam used any positive influence on her brother, because she did not give any advice to Aaron. Rather, Aaron negatively influenced the people by succumbing to this ungodly situation. Thus Aaron sinned in making the golden calf, and then he sinned again by contributing to the people’s sin. Had it not been for Moses’ intervention and his pleas to God to spare them, all of the people would have been killed, simply because Aaron and Miriam did not separate themselves from the group who wanted to worship false gods and stand up for God. Instead of telling the people “no”, Aaron negatively influenced the people by promoting and agreeing to their worship of false gods.
Miriam allows her Desire for Self-aggrandizement to Dictate her Actions.
The next time the Bible mentions Miriam, we see recorded within the Scriptures her need for self-aggrandizement and self-promotion. Obviously, Miriam allowed her personal desires and previous oppression in life as well as mental strongholds to truly affect her outlook on life. This time, though, it was not something that she simply did not do, rather it was an overt negative action that she knew she was doing. Whether it was Miriam who convinced Aaron to go along with her or it was Aaron who convinced her to go along with him, this brother and sister duo made a decision that was going to make God very angry. Perhaps, though, it was Miriam who had been the instigator, for she is the one who received the punishment for her self-promotion, for her desire to be elevated in rank, and for her proud heart.
The incident, which caused Miriam to have to re-look at her heart and her desires, occurred when Moses married a Cushite (Ethiopian) woman. We can only surmise or guess at the reason that Moses chose this woman, because the Bible does not tell us why Moses married her. Perhaps Moses knew her from Pharaoh’s palace, as Ethiopian’s were part of the servants for the palace royalty, and many Egyptians and other people groups came out of Egypt with the Israelites. Or maybe she just had an exceptionally kind heart and a very loving heart toward God. Whatever the reason, it was none of Aaron’s and Miriam’s business who Moses married. Moreover, this criticism was just a subterfuge to hide other motives.
Although we are not told why Miriam and Aaron objected to this woman, the marriage became the catalyst for Miriam to act upon her desire for self-promotion. In other words, the marriage was just an excuse, or it became the right moment in Miriam’s mind to push her true agenda through by using the excuse to be upset with Moses’ choice in a wife. Whatever the reason, Miriam would have plenty of time to re-look at her objections and to contemplate her despicable actions.
When Miriam and Aaron finally came to talk to Moses and criticize him in his choice in a wife, they also said, “‘Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he spoken through us, too?’ But the Lord heard them.” – (Numbers 12: 2. NLT). Then, the Lord immediately called all three of them, Moses, Aaron and Miriam, to the Tabernacle. There, God appeared in a cloud before the entrance of Tabernacle. “Aaron and Miriam!” He called, and they stepped forward. “And the LORD said to them, ‘Now Listen to me! Even with prophets, I the LORD communicate by visions and dreams. But that is not how I communicate with my servant Moses. He is entrusted with my entire house. I speak to him face to face, directly and not in riddles! He sees the LORD as He is. Should you not be afraid to criticize him?’” – (Numbers 12: 6-8. NLT). The situation had now become much more serious than just Miriam and Aaron criticizing Moses’ wife.
Suddenly the LORD departed, and almost immediately Miriam started turning white as snow with leprosy. When Aaron realized what was happening, he cried out to the Lord not to kill her. Then Moses cried out to the LORD and asked for Miriam to be healed. God heard Moses’ plea and finally decided to just banish Miriam from camp for seven days. Although God could have killed Miriam for her prideful heart and self-aggrandizement, God was merciful, and instead He punished Miriam with seven days of leprosy, which came with an automatic banishment from camp.
God’s discipline only lasted seven days, and then Miriam was healed. Unquestionably, if she thought about her words and actions at all during those seven days, Miriam had plenty of time to think about what she had done. For, Miriam had time to think about what her worldly desire to be elevated to the leader and what her desire for prestige had done to her and her brothers. Obviously, the emotional hurt that she had inflicted upon her brother, Moses, would be there for a great while. Additionally, Aaron, who seemed to be easily led down the wrong path by other peoples’ suggestions, had again been easily influenced by Miriam’s desire for glory. Moreover, both Miriam and Aaron could have been killed for questioning the decision of God to put Moses in charge. Only because God listened to His servant, Moses, was Aaron saved and Miriam healed over a seven-day time period that surely came with a great deal of self-evaluation.
Have you ever spent time in evaluating your actions, words, or behaviors? I certainly have! In fact, it is important for us to look back on what we have done in life, to determine how we have impacted the lives of others. For this reason, self-evaluation is important to our personal growth. Certainly, if we have negatively impacted someone, we don’t want to ever do that again! Accordingly, then, with self-evaluation we can often realize that we may have thoughtlessly said or done something, which we regret or for which we need to apologize. However, sometimes on further evaluation, I have realized that I simply didn’t make my words precise or clear enough thus creating a misunderstanding, or I have realized that I shouldn’t have said anything at all. But, if we are willing to evaluate our words, actions, etc., we can, indeed, become better Christians. For, we can become better at understanding how important our attitudes, words, and behaviors are in creating a positive influence on the lives of others, or we can understand how our attitudes, words, and behaviors have created a negative influence. Self-evaluation, then, should lead to positive growth and then positive influence!
Our positive influence on the lives of others should be based upon Christian values, morality, integrity, consideration of our fellow humans, kindness, caring, and of course upon the ultimate Truth, which comes from the Word of God. If we live our lives in a way that makes light of those godly things, then we cannot be a positive influence upon those around us. Moreover, just saying that we are “born-again” Christians and then not working on developing the traits of Christ in our life as presented to us through the Fruit of the Holy Spirit will not present a picture of Christ to the rest of the world. For, we are known by the fruit that we produce. If then we are producing rotten fruit, or if we are not producing fruit of any kind at all, we could be doing great harm to those who are looking to us for strength, Truth, enlightenment, and empowerment. Instead, we are to be the light of Christ shining out on those who are lost. But, if our light shines dimly or not at all, we are actually harming those who could have seen the path, if only the bright light of Christ been there for them.
Please take some time to evaluate your life-style, words, behaviors, etc. and determine whether or not you are truly being a positive influence on those around you. Please do not be like Miriam and think only of yourself or fail to help those who are truly in need of your help, advice, comfort, love, teaching, etc. All Christians and those that become active relational Christian mentors have a responsibility to be a positive influence on those they encounter. So, once you have evaluated your Christian life, determine to be even better no matter how great a job you may think that you are doing. For, there is always a place for improvement for each of us. Moreover, each improvement means that we can be even better at our positive influence on others.
You can do it! You can be a positive influence on others! You can become an Active Relational Christian Mentor who empowers others to be all they can be for God, themselves and others! But, even if you choose to produce fruit in some other way for the Kingdom of God, there is always, whether it is active or passive influence, a positive influence that you can bring to light as a follower of Christ by working on and obtaining the Fruit of the Spirit. God Bless your endeavors to be a light in this dark world for Jesus Christ!