«They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, ‘You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?’ » (Numbers 16:3).
Korah was Moses’s cousin. His family had an elevated role in the tribe of Levi: they were in charge of transporting the furniture of the tabernacle. However, Korah was not satisfied and coveted the priesthood. Gathering two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, he incited a rebellion to accuse Moses of assuming the leadership of the people and believing himself better than everyone else. What was the first thing Moses did in the face of this terrible accusation, this public campaign to destroy his reputation? He fell to his knees. He prayed!
The forty years Moses led Israel through the wilderness were filled with criticism and murmuring against him and against God. The Israelites murmured in Marah about the lack of water (Exodus 15), and again in Rephidim (Exodus 17). They complained about the lack of food in the Wilderness of Sin (Exodus 16) and demanded meat in Taberah (Numbers 11). When the spies returned from the Promised Land bringing mainly a negative report, the people wanted to stone their leaders (Numbers 14). Time after time, at each criticism, Moses humbled himself before God and asked for help in managing the crisis.
Very often, when I’m criticized, I get defensive. I react first and pray later. In Patriarchs and Prophets, we read that Moses, however, «made no effort at self-vindication. He solemnly appealed to God, in the presence of the congregation, as a witness to the purity of his motives and the uprightness of his conduct, and implored Him to be his judge.»—ch. 35, p. 399. After praying and receiving instructions from God, Moses challenged those who aspired to the priesthood to come the next day and offer incense at the door of the tabernacle. Then God Himself resolved the conflict and destroyed the two hundred and fifty who dared to burn incense, as well as the leaders of the rebellion (Numbers 16).
If you face criticism today, follow Moses’ example: pray first and react later. If God reveals to you that the criticism is true (or seems to be), ask for forgiveness and use it to grow. If God shows you it’s not, ask Him how to handle the crisis. Remember that the Lord is the best Defender of your reputation.
Dear Lord, when it’s my time to deal with criticism and negative comments, help me to pray first and react later. Give me a humble spirit, ready to learn.