When Claire McGarry notices what's in parentheses about Moses in Numbers 12, she wonders what's written in the parentheses for each one of us.
Of course, we all know who Moses is and just how righteous he was. But what if someone were new to her faith and opened the Bible to Numbers 12? If she just read the first two lines, she might be swayed by what Miriam and Aaron say about him. They complain about Moses in such a way that might make her think he's a glory-seeker.
It would take reading that third line, in parentheses, to clarify for her that Moses is very humble. In fact, he's the humblest man on earth.
(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.) Numbers 12:3
But if she were in a rush, and couldn't read on, it would be an injustice to Moses and to herself. Not only would she miss what God wrote in his parentheses, she'd miss reading about how Moses reacts. His action of defending his slanderers further testifies to his righteousness.
I don't know about you, but I've stumbled upon many a conversation where two people are speaking ill about a third. If we don't know that third person, the gossip might sour our perception of her. Worse yet, if we aren't patient, wise or compassionate enough to learn for ourselves who she really is, we might incorrectly label her without ever reading what God's written in her parentheses. We'd also rob her of the chance to tell us more about herself through her actions.
The lesson gets even more extreme when we're the ones being slandered. It's a hurtful thing when people don't recognize that God created us in His image and lovingly writes all our wonderful in our parentheses. It also stings when people overlook how our positive actions speak about the good in our hearts.
We have no control over what people think or say about us. Yet we do have control over what we think and say about others. We need to always assume that what's written in every person's parentheses is good and wonderful. Doing so keeps our thoughts and words about them positive and life-giving.
Copyright 2021 Claire McGarry
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About the Author
Claire McGarry is the author of the Lenten devotional "With Our Savior," published by Creative Communications for the Family/Bayard, Inc. and Grace in Tension: Discover Peace with Martha and Mary, to be published by Our Sunday Visitor in the fall of 2021. Her freelance work has appeared in various Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Focus on the Family magazine, Catechist magazine, These Days devotional, and Keys for Kids devotional. The founder of MOSAIC of Faith, a ministry with several different programs for mothers and children, she blogs at Shifting My Perspective.