Watch out for humble disobedience

The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” (Exodus 4:11-13)

In Exodus 4, God approaches Moses with what must have felt like a death sentence: go to Pharaoh, the most powerful man in the world, and tell him to let his Israelite slaves go free. Understandably, Moses is more than reluctant to take on the task; indeed, he seems to give every excuse in the book why he’s the wrong man for the job. But even after God assures Moses that he will give him the words to speak AND miraculous signs and wonders to display, Moses still asks God to pick someone else. And so, God angrily tells Moses that Aaron will be his mouthpiece.

There’s a fine line between humility and disobedience, just like there can be a fine line between obedience and pride. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a poverty of spirit that is so aware of our own sin that it fears doing anything for God, lest our shortcomings bring disrepute on God’s great name. Many of the great men of the Bible responded to God’s call by begging them to pick someone more worthy; think of Peter in Luke 5:8 telling Jesus “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Show me someone who says “I got this” to God’s call, and I’ll show you someone who might want to watch their pride.

But if we’re not careful, humility can easily lead to disobedience. When the Lord calls us to follow Him, “I’m not worthy” is not a legitimate reason to say no. An honest appraisal of our sin and shortcomings should lead us to a humble dependence upon God, not to a fearful disobedience, as it did for Moses in Exodus 4. The incredible promise of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:18-21 is that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead resides in us by His Holy Spirit. This means that while we may be sinful through and through, we also have access to the very power of God that is more than able to overcome any sin or shortcoming we may have.

With this great promise, let us walk forward in courageous faith and humble obedience, declaring with Paul that “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10), and believing that “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

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