Is God Nit-picky?

He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 

Numbers 20:10
  • You know what kept Moses from entering the Promised Land? He used his staff to hit a rock, causing water to gush out of it, instead of just commanding it with his voice.
  • You know what got King Saul into trouble with God? The Prophet Samuel was late to bless the troops, so Saul blessed them instead. Not long after, Saul was out, and David was in.
  • You know what made Zechariah unable to speak for 9 months? He didn’t completely believe the angel that told him he and his wife, both elderly, would be expecting a son, John the Baptist.

I’m sure there are other examples of this, but I must admit a little concern to realize something…

God can be kind of nit-picky. I mean, these are all pretty minor offenses, aren’t they? Saul said a blessing? Moses used a staff? Zechariah asked a couple follow up questions? What’s the big deal?

It’s nit-picky! Like a gorilla, picking out bugs out of their best friend’s fur. Like your boss, looking over your shoulder, making corrections. Paying too much attention to tiny details. In these three examples God comes across as unnecessarily restrictive. If God is truly this kind of a nit-picky God, then I might just be in trouble.

See, I like to play my faith a little more loosey-goosey. When God says “jump”, I say “how about on one leg?” When God says “don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing” I say, “I’m ambidextrous, so can I get an exemption?” When God says “Love your neighbor” I say, “Would you accept ‘Tolerate?”

If God is nit-picky, I’m pretty much the opposite of it. I’m more of a wiggle-worm. I want room for margins. I figure it’s the thought that counts. That everybody deserves an ‘A’ for effort. Honestly, I think God can be kind of like that, too. It’s called grace. Most of the time, that’s the God I think I’m relating to.

But what to do about nit-picky God? What about the times when God seems to hold such miniscule expectations? Well, let’s look at those three examples again, and see what God might be doing:

  • Zechariah was a priest, standing in the Holy of Holies in the temple, the one place on earth most set apart for experiencing God in person. Zechariah should have been filled to the brim with belief in that moment! A little silent reflection might have been in order.
  • Saul was a king, but supposed to be second in command to God. Some of his command decisions, including this one, seemed like smart enough moves, but he was moving farther and farther away from God’s leadership. It was becoming clear he would not be the king to covenant with God for the future of Israel.
  • When Moses said “must WE bring you rebels water from this rock?”, hitting the stone with his own hand, he showed signs of forgetting who was really in charge. He had begun to take a little too much credit, and that could have led them away from the Promised Land.”

I can’t claim to understand all the reasons behind God’s actions, but in these cases what sounded nit-picky turned out to be pretty important. God needs God’s faithful to be…faithful. That means listening, believing, and responding obediently. I don’t think that means we must interpret every word God speaks in the most narrow ways possible, but for wiggle worms like me, let this be a reminder…

God doesn’t want to pick nits,

God wants to pick you.

Have a great week,

Mitch