Have you ever heard someone defend their sinful actions with the words, “I can’t help it. That is just the way I am. God made me this way, so if it bothers you, you’ll have to take it up with Him not me”? It might be appropriate to ask if you have ever used those words to defend your sinful actions.
How are we to think about statements like that? God did make us unique. Any parent of multiple children can tell you that there are parts of the human personality that are present and distinct from the earliest days of life. I believe we can learn something of this from watching the life of Moses.
In Exodus 3, as God calls Moses to deliver Israel from their Egyptian bondage, we hear the words of one who is fearful and quite possibly socially intimidated (hence the stuttering). Moses was more than willing to let someone else have the limelight. Actually, in Exodus 4:13, Moses asked God to send someone else.
We see a very similar Moses in Exodus 32. This time God is telling Moses that He has had it with Israel. They have rebelled against him one too many times. God offers to consume Israel in His hot anger and start over with the family line of Moses (Exodus 32:10). Once again, Moses is not fond of the limelight. Again, Moses requests that God not make him the focal point.
We see the same personality in Moses, but there is a definite refinement of Moses’ character.
In Exodus 3 and 4 Moses is motivated by personal fear and insecurity. That aspect of his character that made him comfortable letting others lead was expressed in doubt of God, condemnation of self, and the pursuit of convenience.
In Exodus 32 the willingness to let others have center stage is motivated by a desire to see God have glory amongst the nations. The same personality trait was present, but the focal point was God’s glory and not self-preservation.
This brings us back to the opening question. God does make us with distinct personality traits. Those traits are often discernable to others and can be relatively consistent throughout a lifetime. However, sin is not found in a personality trait. Sin is found in our motivations. Either we are seeking to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and to love our neighbor as ourselves, or we are seeking to love ourselves first and manipulating others to play along.
We may not be able to change certain personality traits to any strong degree. But we can change (by God’s grace) what we live for. Repentance is more than saying we are sorry. Repentance is seeing what our actions reveal about our heart (conviction) and committing to live for the love of God/others as evidenced by new action.
Go back and read Exodus 3-4 and then 32. Listen for the aspects of the conversation between God and Moses that are the same. Get to know Moses as a real person, not a transcendent figure of Scripture. See how God changed him. Then go back and read through the entirety of Exodus to get the unabridged version.
Now go back to the last time you heard (or said) the opening sentences of this post. How does this reflection on the life of Moses allow you to acknowledge the legitimacy of the struggle while holding out hope/responsibility to change by God’s grace and for God’s glory?