Counterfeit Humility

Exodus 3:11,12

And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): Moses, we know, was called to go to Pharaoh, and to bring the Lord’s people out of Egypt. Now, in opposition to this call, he urged his own unworthiness of such an office.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): He answers that he is not sufficient for it, and therefore refuses the commission. His comparison of himself with Pharaoh was an additional pretext for declining it. This, then, seems to be the excuse of modesty and humility; and as such, I conceive it not only to be free from blame, but worthy of praise.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): He thought the Lord had made a mistake, that he was not the man. He said, “Who am I?” He was very small in his own estimation.

JOHN CALVIN: But another question arises, why he, who forty years ago had been so forward in killing the Egyptian, and, relying on the vocation of God, had dared to perform so perilous a deed, should now timidly deny his sufficiency for the deliverance of the people? It does not seem probable that his rigour had decreased from age.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Age had made him cool and considerate; the remembrance of his brethren’s rejection of him, when he was a great man at court, took away all probability of prevailing with them to follow him, much more of prevailing with Pharaoh to let them go. Thus Moses falls into that distemper to which most men are prone, of measuring God by himself, and by the probabilities or improbabilities of second causes.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Now, catch this—God said, “Never mind who you are. “Certainly I will be with thee.” Here was strength enough for him. What more does Moses want?

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): One difficulty being solved, Moses raised another…The second question asked by Moses was eminently reasonable. He pictures to himself his addressing the Israelites, and their question, Exodus 3:13―“Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

G. CAMPBELL MORGAN (1863-1945): The answer was threefold: first, for himself, “I AM THAT I AM,” Exodus 3:14; second, for Israel, “the LORD God of your fathers,” verse 15; and finally, for Pharaoh, “the LORD God of the Hebrews,” verse 18.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): He ought, therefore, to be perfectly satisfied to go forth.

D. L. MOODY: And yet, he seemed to draw back, and began to make another excuse, and said: “They will not believe me,” Exodus 4:1.

CHARLES SIMEON: Moses would not in plain terms refuse to obey his God: but he tried by every method to excuse himself from undertaking the office assigned him. He first pretends to decline through modesty―and we might have given him credit for real humility, if his subsequent refusals had not shown that he was actuated by a far different principle. When God has obviated all objections arising from his unworthiness, then, in direct opposition to God’s promise, he objects that the people will not believe his message. To remove all apprehensions on this ground, God works three miracles before him, and commissions him to perform the same in the sight of Pharaoh and the people of Israel, Exodus 4:2-9.

D. L. MOODY: But Moses made another excuse, and said, “I am slow of speech, slow of tongue,” Exodus 4:10.

CHARLES SIMEON: He pleads his want of eloquence, and his consequent unfitness for such an undertaking. To obviate this, God asks him, “Who made man’s mouth?” and whether He, who had given him the faculty of speech, was not able to give effect to his endeavours? Yea, He promises to “be with him, and to teach him what he shall say,” Exodus 4:11,12.

C. H. MACKINTOSH: We might suppose that Moses had seen and heard enough to set his fears entirely aside. The consuming fire in the unconsumed bush, the condescending grace, the precious, endearing, and comprehensive titles, the divine commission, the assurance of the divine presence—all these things might have quelled every anxious thought, and imparted a settled assurance to the heart.

CHARLES SIMEON: And does all this overcome his reluctance? No: he still declines the service, and begs that God would employ any other person rather than himself, Exodus 4:13. But what were all these objections? They were, in truth, only so many excuses, urged to cover his own backwardness to undertake the work―the very excuses which a false humility invariably suggests.

C. H. MACKINTOSH: Divinely-wrought humility is an inestimable grace. To “be clothed with humility,” is a divine precept, 1 Peter 5:5; and humility is, unquestionably, the most becoming dress in which a worthless sinner can appear. But, it cannot be called humility to refuse to take the place which God assigns, or to tread the path which His hand marks out for us. That it was not true humility in Moses is obvious from the fact that “the anger of the Lord was kindled against him,” Exodus 4:14. So far from its being humility, it had actually passed the limit of mere weakness. So long as it wore the aspect of an excessive timidity, however reprehensible, God’s boundless grace bore with it, and met it with renewed assurances; but when it assumed the character of unbelief and slowness of heart, it drew down Jehovah’s just displeasure.

CHARLES SIMEON: That iniquity should prevail among the blind and ignorant, is no more than might reasonably be expected: but when we behold it in the most eminent saints, we are ready to exclaim, “Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man, that thou so regardest him?” It should seem indeed that God has determined to stain the pride of human glory, by recording the faults of his most favoured servants.

C. H. MACKINTOSH: How hard it is to overcome the unbelief of the human heart! How difficult man ever finds it to trust God! How slow he is to venture forth upon the naked promise of Jehovah. Anything, for nature, but that.—This is a real practical truth: Unbelief is not humility, but thorough pride. It refuses to believe God because it does not find, in self, a reason for believing.

D. L. MOODY: Some one has said that there are three classes of people, the “wills,” the “won’ts,’ and the “can’ts;” the first accomplish everything, the second oppose everything, and the third fail in everything. If God calls you, consider it a great honour. Consider it a great privilege to have partnership with Him in anything. Do it cheerfully, gladly. Do it with all your heart, and He will bless you. Don’t let false modesty, or insincerity, self-interest, or any personal consideration turn you aside.


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