The question is, “Does it really matter how we do God’s work as long as we get the desired results?” Moses is generally recognised as the greatest leader in history. He walked with God and his heart’s desire was to know God’s ways and find favour with Him (Exodus 33:13). It was no easy task to lead countless grumbling and complaining Israelites through a barren wilderness for forty years. When a water crisis arose, Moses cried out to the Lord, who told him to take his staff and some of the elders of Israel and strike the rock at Horeb from which water would come for the people. Moses did as the Lord told him and the people’s thirst was quenched (Exodus 17).
When there was a later water crisis (Numbers 20) Moses (with Aaron) had a meeting with God where they saw His glory. They received a very clear four step procedure on how to address the problem. Moses was to take the staff, take Aaron, gather the people together, and speak to the rock at Kadesh with the promise that water would pour out of the rock for the community. Moses followed three of the four steps, and then, instead of speaking to the rock, he struck it with his staff, which cost him dearly.
We read that when Moses got the water from the rock his way, he didn’t trust God enough to honour Him as holy. The staff was a sign of the authority God had given to Moses, but in failing to completely obey God he usurped God’s authority and claimed credit for the miracle (Numbers 20:10b). Failing to trust God, he took the matter into his own hands and did it his way, expecting God to act as He had previously.
What God told Moses to do didn’t seem reasonable, so he did something he was comfortable with – something that had worked previously. Moses met an urgent need but missed the objective – to honour God as holy. Water gushed from the rock and the people’s thirst was quenched. He got the desired result, but he disobeyed God in the process.
So why does it matter that we live and serve God’s way? The Bible clearly teaches that God’s primary concern is not for results or success, but for obedience to Him, which leads to intimacy with Him. Obedience is proof that we really love Him and that He alone is first in our lives. Partial obedience is, in effect, disobedience.
God’s ways are always best. They’re different to ours. He’s sovereign and He calls us to trust and obey Him, even when we don’t understand. He’s omniscient! He doesn’t expect us to question Him, or demand a reason why. He desires that we surrender and lovingly obey, even when we don’t understand, leaving the outcome with Him.
The personal question for us all to answer is “Does it matter to me whether I serve in my way or God’s way? Does it matter if there’s no reward or recognition for me, as long as He’s honoured?” My answer reveals my motives, and is proof of who occupies the throne of my heart. This matters very much to the One who has called us.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You that You’ve called me to love and serve You. Please forgive me for the times I’ve done things my way instead of Yours, and for the times I’ve compromised obedience to You for my own gain or acceptance. I pray that the Holy Spirit will quicken me to recognise any areas of my heart that need to be purified by the blood of Jesus, so that, like Him, I’ll only do what You tell me, and do it in Your way. Amen.
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