Have you ever had someone spew insults, criticisms, sarcasm, or jealous remarks at you and found that the words were still reverberating in your thoughts days, weeks, or months later?
Moses experienced this. The Israelites displayed a vengeful attitude while they wandered in the desert after escaping from Egypt, and Moses had to listen to their complaints. For one thing, they were sick and tired of the manna that God sent daily to keep them alive (Numbers 11:10-15).
Looking for someone besides themselves to blame, the people plastered a LOSER label all over Moses. “You call this leadership? How long will we wander around here with nothing to eat but the boring mush we find on the ground every morning? A real leader would provide meat–what I wouldn’t give for a steak right now!”
These judgmental labelers were Moses’ family, friends, coworkers, and countrymen. Their accusations cut into his psyche as deeply as sticks and stones would have torn his flesh.
Actually, their complaints were aimed at God, but as Moses was the conduit through which they saw and heard God, they voiced their whining and criticizing at him. (Perhaps they thought God wouldn’t figure out who they were really complaining about…NOT! Perhaps they didn’t think beyond their own wants.)
Can you relate? We are keenly aware of the labels that family, friends, and acquaintances attach to us! Left unchecked, verbal vomit can fester and rot inside us until the stench infiltrates our own self-images. The enemy would love to get us to buy into lies like these. He doesn’t need us to believe all his delusions. He doesn’t even need us to believe the really big ones. Any small bit of self-hatred he can get us to ingest is a seed that can grow into full-grown unbelief. Unfortunately, LOSER labels assigned to us by others have a way of working themselves into our own pictures of ourselves.
Words can do terrible damage. All of us can fret and deteriorate emotionally, physically, and spiritually for a long time over a single phrase or curse hurled our way, no matter who spoke them. The words have been said. They have been heard and relived over and over again.
The good news is that others’ judgmental words don’t have to stick to us. We can leave negative labels behind, write “child and heir of the High King” on nametags, and stick them on our chests and absorb them into our hearts.
Live with that label in your mind, on your heart, and prompting your actions.