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Friday, February 22, 2013

Don't Blame the Donkey

We're continuing the story of Balaam and God has given the donkey the ability to speak. The donkey could see the angel of the Lord with a drawn sword. To avoid Balaam, its rider, being killed, it turned aside. Balaam misinterprets the actions of the donkey as disobedience, when actually it is for his safety and protection. 

Here's the story: 

Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand; and he bowed all the way to the ground. The angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out as an adversary, because your way was contrary to me. But the donkey saw me and turned aside from me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, I would surely have killed you just now, and let her live” (Numbers 22:31-33).
 Here's a question for us. What are we angry about that might be God's deliverance? I can think of some for me:
  • The person driving in front of me who slows down and causes me to miss the green light. (But being delayed might keep me from getting in an accident).
  • Someone criticizes me. (But then I become aware of a fault I'm blind to).
  • An email doesn't go through that seems essential. (But then I realize it would have been hurtful since I learned some new information).  
 What can you think of? At the time we may have felt that anger is appropriate because we've been wronged, delayed, misunderstood, mistreated (you name it). But anger is never godly when not quickly dealt with (Ephesians 4:26). And unlike Balaam's belief, no one causes us to become angry--not even a disobedient donkey. Anger is a choice based on us trying to provide for our own needs or trying to protect ourselves from exposure (see my last post). 

So what does Balaam do? Let's see...


Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you were standing in the way against me. Now then, if it is displeasing to you, I will turn back.” But the angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but you shall speak only the word which I tell you.” So Balaam went along with the leaders of Balak. (Numbers 22:34-35).

Balaam recognizes his sin and repents. He calls it for what it is: sin. He acknowledges that he did not recognize God as sovereignly acting. And he submits himself, it seems sincerely, to obeying whatever God wants. 

Even though Balaam did not recognize God's hand upon the donkey's actions, he was still accountable. And so are you and me. As our Sovereign God, He is "behind" everything that happens to us. And because He only intends everything for our good, we can submit to His will even as we seek Him for the right way to respond. (IE Just because something unjust occurs doesn't mean we don't fight against it).

What makes you angry? Can you identify some blocked goal or feeling exposed? Can you believe God wants only the best for you? Can you take your eyes off the opinions of others and focus on God's opinion of you "in Christ?" If so, your anger will dissipate because it is no longer being fed by the lies that God doesn't want your best or that He doesn't care about your reputation. 

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