You’re not Looking at the Man

Guest post by Rob Tims

I was working out early one morning (no … really … I was working out) and pretty quickly fell into my routine of 80’s music on a free streaming music service. Yet the 30 or so songs on that list had lost their ability to push me to the place I needed to get to in order to make the most of the early morning hour. So, I swiped around a little on my phone and settled on a station that played songs more current to our culture. I was quickly sucked into “The Man” by The Killers. Here are some of the lyrics.

I got gas in the tank

I got money in the bank

I got news for you baby, you’re looking at the man

I got skin in the game

I got a household name

I got news for you baby, you’re looking at the man

It’s quite catchy, and not unlike something that would have been produced in the 80’s. But it’s the lyrics that truly motivate. By the end of the song, I felt pretty cocky and like I could lift as much as the next guy.

That is, until I looked around at all the other guys and girls in the gym, many of which are there the same time each morning as I am, and many of them in far better shape and able to do far more than I ever will in my best condition.

But for those 3-4 minutes, I was “the man”.

There are many examples of people in the Bible who, at one time or another, arrived at the conclusion that they were “the man”. In particular, I’m thinking of Moses when, simultaneously emboldened by his identity as a Jew and his power as a son of Pharaoh, he took the life of an Egyptian who had violently struck a Jew (Exodus 2:11-12). Yet later, when that same feeling of being “the man” rose up within him and he sought to correct two Egyptians arguing, they called Moses out on his crime, which turn sent him into hiding for 40 years in Midian (Exodus 2:13-22).

Moses would learn much in those 40 years, and God would use him greatly even though he wasn’t perfect. Yet one of the things Moses clearly learned was that he wasn’t “the man”.

There are multiple illustrations of this throughout his life story, but the most pronounced (in my humble opinion) comes from Numbers 12 (CSB).

Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because of the Cushite woman he married (for he had married a Cushite woman). They said, “Does the Lord speak only through Moses? Does he not also speak through us?” And the Lord heard it. Moses was a very humble man, more so than anyone on the face of the earth. Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “You three come out to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them went out.

Now, if you read on, you see that the Lord rebuked Miriam and Aaron and vindicated Moses in this situation. But what is relevant and fascinating is that the author injects commentary regarding Moses’ character into this story. In between describing a situation where there is bitter and hostile opposition and God working to vindicate the accused, there is this description of Moses as “meek.”  In other words, Moses knew that despite any position or perceived power or previous performance, he was not “the man”.  

Just where you would expect the Bible to tell us what Moses said to justify himself against Miriam and Aaron’s charges, the text says he was the meekest man on the earth. That of all the people who could say they were “the man,” Moses more than all people knew he wasn’t. Moses never said a word. He didn’t tuck tail and cower; nor was he defensive and revengeful.  He didn’t fret; he waited and trusted that God would come to his defense.It’s not a concept that will pump you up and get you feeling good about just how powerful you are, but it is a trait that makes much of the One who made you. In other words, you might actually get to the place where you are “proud” to say, “I’ve got news for you … you’re not looking at the man.”

Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.

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