What makes it so difficult to admit we are wrong?! Why do we fight accepting the blame we deserve? Is it our pride that keeps us captive in a stronghold we build for ourselves ? Admittedly, it is troubling how this character flaw can be such a besetting sin for many of us, even for the most admirable of people….. even Moses.
Knowing the real story of why Moses was not allowed to lead the Israelites into the promised land back in Numbers 20, it is nothing less than surprising to get to Duetronomy 1:37 to hear Moses describe the encounter much differently. Not only does he spin the account in the first chapter, he does so two more times in Duetronomy 3:26 and Duetronomy 4:21!
God Himself had informed Moses where he made his mistake in Numbers 20:12, so there was little to no possibility of misunderstanding the facts. Moses had not upheld the Lord’s holiness to the Israelites. He had taken liberty with authority that was not his, and he had not obeyed the specific instructions the Lord had given.
Yes, the Israelites were aggravating to deal with, and yes they had Moses at his wit’s end with all their rebellion and grumbling. He had a role and responsibility no one would want. But as the saying goes, “two wrongs don’t make a right”.
It reminds me of our tendency from the very beginning of time. When Eve ate the apple in Genesis 3, and then gave some to her husband Adam, God came calling and held them accountable. The “blame game” commenced with Adam even giving some of the responsibility to God! When asked by God if they had eaten of the forbidden tree, Adam answered “The woman you put here with me- she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it”. Then Eve blamed the serpent, and the proverbial buck was passed for the very first time.
It is in us, to want to shift the blame. But this is a harmful action to others and to our faith.
It drives a wedge of bitterness and resentment into our relationships. We heap all our anger on those we care about. Even though they may frustrate us, they do not deserve the burden and blame for our sin. When we blame others, our love for them and from them is assaulted. It changes love into obligation, which is a relationship killer. No one measures up……and love grows cold……no matter how much it is demanded.
Moses missed out on more than entering the promised land, he lost the fulfilling fellowship God graciously intends for His children to enjoy as they journey together along the way. This creates an isolated, lonely existence, even amongst a crowd of people in the desert. Key to experiencing all that God desires to give us through relationships is being able to accept the ownership our own mistakes.
Not taking responsibility for our own sin also harms our faith. How can we be sanctified if we are never wrong? If it is always someone else’s fault, God’s purpose for us maturing in our faith is impeded. We are stunted in our growth. Repentance plays a crucial role in our ability to transform in our faith, becoming more and more Christlike. When we recognize our sin, our inability to measuring up, we look to the cross and see our Savior paying the penalty for this. Jesus is the exact opposite of our tendency to blame others. He took ALL THE BLAME from every person for all time! If we squander the inevitable opportunity when we fall short in life, we are missing out on falling into the arms of grace and mercy!
In the end, Moses was left bitter toward the Israelites for what he perceived they cost him. His relationship with them was damaged, and he lost out on his great reward of ushering them in to their promised land flowing with God’s blessings. What satisfaction had waited for him there ?! But it had depended on him walking humbly with God and with others.
If we can’t be wrong, how can we experience the awesome, Jesus-glorifying process of redemption?! That moment when Christ turns our worst mistakes into something purposeful and precious……..no amount of pride is worth missing out on that!