Most of the time we Christians talk about not being afraid of this or that. After all, the Bible says various versions of “fear not” over 300 times. But today, I want to talk about something we should be afraid of. Let me start by telling you a story about when my Golden Retriever dug up a tree.
Shortly after we had planted a maple tree in our backyard, we went on vacation. It was the first time we had left Ginger, our Golden Retriever, home alone in our fenced in yard. A neighbor fed and watched out for her while we were away. On the second day of our trip, I called Cathy to see how Ginger was doing.
“Well, Ginger’s fine,” Cathy reported. “But you know that tree you planted last week? She dug it up!”
“She did what!” I exclaimed.
“She dug it up. The tree’s lying in the yard.”
When we got home, we walked over to the toppled tree. Ginger tucked her tail and slunk into the garage like the bad dog she was.
When we planted the tree, we left a small piece of the burlap around the root ball exposed. Ginger spied that remnant peeking out of the ground and wanted it…bad. Several times we had caught her pawing at the burlap and reprimanded her with a stern “no!”
She ducked her head, crept away and waited for a more opportune time. I imagine that the moment she saw us load suitcases in the car and pull out of the driveway, she tiptoed over to the forbidden tree and began to dig. (Can dogs tiptoe? I think they can.) She must have dug and dug for hours with all her puppy might—flinging dirt in every direction. Finally, the dirt slinger accomplished her mission. The tree was toppled, and the burlap exposed.
In the Bible, Moses’ sister, Miriam, was a dirt slinger. Even though Moses had many wonderful qualities, not to mention being chosen by God to lead His people, Miriam thought otherwise. She didn’t like his wife, his leadership style, or the fact that God called him and not her.
So, she slung dirt. The Bible tells us, “Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. ‘Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?’ they asked. ‘Hasn’t he also spoken through us?’ And the Lord heard this” (Numbers 12:1-2).
I don’t know about you, but that sentence, “And the LORD heard this,” gives me the shivers. Then God said, “Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them.” (Numbers 12:8-9)
Miriam’s punishment for dirt slinging was leprosy. Amazingly, Moses prayed for his sister, and the disease disappeared in seven days.
Now, let’s go back to God’s question, “Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” And then I hear God saying the same to me: Why are you not afraid to speak against my servant _______?
When I feel the urge to sling a little dirt about someone, especially a brother or sister in Christ, I need to remember those words and have a holy fear about speaking against any of God’s servants…and that includes all believers. Instead of being a dirt slinger, I need to be a comfort bringer.
Let’s go back to the toppled tree. Steve and I gently removed what was left of the burlap sack around the root system, carefully sat the maple back up into the prepared soil, and lovingly patted the dirt back around the parched roots. Then, because of its weakened state, we braced it up with ropes tied to three stakes in the ground. I watered the weary maple daily, not knowing if it would recover from the trauma. In the end, the tree not only survived, it thrived.
When we see a friend who has been wounded by words slung like dirt, we can slowly stand her back up, lovingly reestablish her roots in the good soil of God’s Word, gently brace her up with kindness, and water her daily with prayer. Who knows? You may even help her not only survive, but also thrive.
Thankfully, Ginger left the tree alone after that. After all—she never cared about the tree in the first place.
Lord, I want to be a comfort bringer not a dirt slinger. Give me a holy fear about speaking against Your servants, and put a guard over the door of my lips. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Will you join me in committing not to talk against God’s servants? Which is really just a nice way of saying…I will not sling dirt. If so, leave a comments a say, “I’m in!”
For more on how to use our words to speak life, see my best-selling book, The Power of a Woman’s Words: How the Words You Speak Shape the Lives of Others and The Power of a Woman’s Words Bible study guide. This new edition includes a chapter on the power of a woman’s words to her adult children…it’s complicated!
Congratulations to Alisa Sisk for winning a copy of The Power of a Woman’s Words for herself and one for her friend from last week’s random drawing from the blog post comments~