Have your children ever “played” you against your husband? Maybe they’ve been reading the Bible and got the idea from Numbers 22:7-14, the first encounter we have with Balaam.
As I was reading this passage last week I realized there was a message here I had never seen before–one that I think you, as parents, will appreciate, too.
When the messengers come to Balaam, they tell him that King Balak has asked them to get Balaam to put a curse on the Israelites. Balaam says, he needs to ask God. Then Balaam goes to God but he doesn’t tell it all.
Then Balaam does it again. God answers but Balaam tells the messengers only part of what God said.
Then, finally, less than the whole truth is told again. The messengers don’t want Balak to be mad at them. He sent them on an errand and they failed so this time it is the messengers who are not entirely honest, they only tell King Balak part of the story.
Each party plays one against the other.
Balaam was a sorcerer for hire and he’s negotiating for the highest fee he can get. That is his first mistake.
Balaam didn’t want to tell the messengers all that God had said because he wants them to come back with more money. Each is slanting their stories to try and better position themselves.
The second thing Balaam did wrong was lying about needing time to consider their proposal when he should have sent them packing immediately!
The apostle John tells us what to do should anyone come to our house and wants us to do evil, to go against the Lord God:
“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds,” 2 John 10-11.
But Balaam did not send them away and he now joins them and Balak in sin. Do you think God was in the habit of talking to Balaam? I’ll bet not. I am guessing he was a little surprised when God actually did talk to him!
After Balaam tells God what the men want, then he makes his pitch to God! “God, let me curse them!” God responds emphatically, “No! No! No! You shall not go with them or curse them because I have blessed them.”
The next morning, Balaam tells Balak’s messengers, “Go back to your land. The Lord refused to give me permission.”
We can give Balaam credit for this: he actually does what God told him and sent them away without making any money.
But he didn’t do this because he feared God. I think he thought something like, “Hey, I’ll play ‘hard to get. I can refuse and they’ll probably come back and bring a bigger bag of gold.”
I have found our kids playing off Randy and my own weaknesses. Butter works well. When Kiley wants to give me a foot massage, even if it is after her bedtime, she is pretty sure I’ll say “Okay.” All the kids know they can usually stay up a little later if we are giving Mom or Daddy a scalp massage.
I want to point out two things here; anything less than the whole truth is a lie.
Deception destroys relationships and trust. Teach your children that the whole truth is the only way to be honest.
Secondly, when kids play one parent against the other we need to do what Balaam should have immediately done. Call them on it and talk to the other party ASAP.
Take a step back and analyze the situation. Make a plan and commit to each other that you are ONE. You are an inseparable unit joined by God.
P.S. Just as I was closing this note to you, one of my children said, “Mama, can we watch a movie with you?” The question was not unusual, what made me smile was that the questioning child was rubbing my head while asking. They’ve got me pegged!