They all get along; why can’t we?

As confrontations roar these days between people of opposing political opinions, torqued neighbors who make it feel like you’re living on the threshold of Hades itself and snarky online comments inflicting flaming arrows of hidden origin (and sometimes not so hidden), I’ll admit it hurts my heart. Yours too, no doubt.

And I know it hurts Papa God’s heart when people refuse to extend kindness to one another.

But unkindness isn’t something new. It’s been around a l-o-n-g time.

Take for example the biblical account of an ugly, backbiting sibling episode in the twelfth chapter of Numbers. (Grab your Bible and read this for yourself.)

Turns out that Miriam and Aaron—yes, THE Miriam, whom we’ve always admired for cleverly saving her baby brother Moses (Exodus 2:7) and leading the worship celebration after the Red Sea drowned the aspirations of Pharaoh’s army (Exodus 15:20), and THE Aaron, whom we’ve adored as Moses’ older brother, mouthpiece (Exodus 4:30) and faithful right hand man (literally in Exodus 17:11-12)—later became jealous of their divinely-handpicked leader, Moses.

So they got together one day to ‘dis’ Mo because of the nationality of his wife and to grouse loudly and liberally about not receiving the due they felt they deserved.

Yikes. These two, who were until this point completely worthy of our respect and admiration, started spreading racist rumors to tear down their own brother and build themselves up. This, my friend, is not kind.

When Yahweh called them out for it, He was so spitting mad at their pettiness (“the anger of the LORD burned against them” 12:9 NIV), He not only cursed Miriam with a nasty case of temporary leprosy, He left them.

He. Left. Them.

Do you feel the full impact of this? Horrors. Can you think of anything worse? To be so revolting to the One who created you that He cannot even stand the sight of you?

I fear that Papa God’s point in including this sobering and unflattering story in the Bible was to show that regardless of how normally good, pleasant, helpful, smiley and obedient we may be, we all have it in us, my friend, to spout mean, spiteful words and treat even those we love (much less those we don’t) unkindly.

And then we face the terrifying possibility of our God not being able to stomach our very presence.

I think even leprosy would be preferable to that.

So let’s be mindful of how we respond to others when we feel disrespected, whether real or imagined. Do we grab our swords and start swinging? Or do we hammer them into plowshares (Isaiah 2:4)? (A plowshare, by the way is a crop harvesting tool; the gist of this verse is that there are times when we need to turn our instruments of warfare into tools for peace.)

And I, for one, would rather farm than harm. Wouldn’t you?