Humanity has an interesting tendency to blame bad circumstances on God and then proceed to take the credit for any and all good things that happen to them. Christians are no less vulnerable to this inclination towards self-exhaultation. We have to be very careful not to shift the attention from what God has done to what we have done. When we pray for healing, what is our attitude? Are we hoping for a miracle so we can show how holy we are, or are we hoping for a miracle so that God can be glorified in the situation and the individual can be healed? When our car is on empty and we pray that we can make it to the next town to fill up and we make it against all odds, do we pat ourselves on the back for our mileage estimates and fuel-saving driving skills, or do we thank God for honouring our request? One more example: when we are given the opportunity to lead someone to salvation in Jesus Christ, what is our heart attitude? Is it a self-congratulatory high five for entering the club of making headway for the kingdom? Do we excitedly tell people what happened for the attention and congratulation? Or do we thank God for the opportunity and for working in that person's life? Do we tell others what happened in order to give them the opportunity to celebrate God's grace and so that his name can be glorified? In everything, we must give God credit where credit is due. In Numbers 20:2-13 we read the story of Moses and the waters at Meribah. The people of Israel previously had complained in another location about not having water, and at that time God had had Moses hit a rock with his staff and water flowed forth. Here at Meribah the people of Israel complained about a lack of water once again, but this time God had a different plan in mind for supplying for their needs. He told Moses, "Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle."[ref]Numbers 20:8[/ref]
That command from God seems simple enough, but here is what happened:
Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.[ref]Numbers 20:10-11[/ref]
Rather than obey God, Moses (perhaps in exasperation after dealing with the Israelites' incessant whining for so long) hit the rock twice. Rather than show the Israelites something new, he used a formula that had already been seen and relegated the supernatural to what could be viewed as a ritualistic pattern (essentially a method of controlling the divine--often our apostate doctrines come about from us trying to take control into our own hands), easily repeated by the right human hands.
To make matters worse--and indeed, this may have been the worst part of the situation--Moses takes the credit from God for himself and Aaron. He should have said, "Hear now, you rebels: must God prove himself again by bringing you water out of this rock? Rock, bring forth water in the name of Yahweh!" Instead, Moses said, "Hear now you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?"[ref]emphasis mine[/ref]
Indeed, this event is what causes Moses and Aaron to lose the privilege of coming into the Promised Land as God pronounced: "Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them."[ref]Numbers 20:12[/ref]
Just as it is academically wrong to copy someone's test in school, or plagiarize a paper (even loosely for part of one); and just as it is morally wrong to take credit for something someone else has done at work or in the media: it is wrong to take credit from God when he has done something. Be aware of your motivations. Be slow to give credit to yourself, and quick to give credit where it is due: to God our Father and Creator.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you!
--Pastor Stephen Valcourt