Mixed Motives

Mixed Motives

Scripture selection: Numbers 23:11-12

Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies, but you have done nothing but bless them!” He answered, “Must I not speak what the LORD puts in my mouth?”

The story of a fellow named Balaam is one filled with twists and turns.  It even has, of all things, a donkey that is smarter than a man!

At its core though, there is a powerful lesson.

In the scripture above a leader who had wanted to curse the Israelites, and had acquired the services of Balaam to do so, is thwarted.  At this point of the story Balaam, having been divinely instructed to go with the man but speak only as God instructed, refused to pronounce the desired curse on the people.

So far so good – Balaam’s words are good counsel: “Must I not speak what the LORD puts in my mouth?”

How often would we steer clear of serious trouble if we faithfully followed God’s counsel, speaking only as directed (as best as we could tell at least?)

Had Balaam stopped there, perhaps all would have been well.

His story is not so happy, though.

Having mixed motives, Balaam eventually refused to do the most important thing of all, to acknowledged God’s sovereign rule over his life.

It’s a good spiritual lesson.

In our spiritual lives, we mustn’t allow ourselves to be led around, or driven, by motives that are the wrong ones.  We especially mustn’t let desire for money or power to drive us in the wrong direction and away from God’s guidance.

Balaam forgot that and it cost him dearly.

Funny…even his donkey knew better than that.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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