“‘We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.’ And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, ‘The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes and we looked the same to them.’”
This passage from Numbers 13 tells the story of the Israel spies who went in to spy out the land and then came back and spread a bad report about it among the people. Keep in mind that the land they explored was the land God promised to give them. It was indeed a land flowing with milk and honey. They even brought back a huge cluster of grapes they had found growing there; the cluster was so big two men had to carry it on a pole between them (13:23).
In spite of this explicit factual evidence, the spies’ fears got the better of them. In their report to the people, they began to exaggerate and distort what they saw there. Their bad report spread fear among the entire Israelite community to such an extent that everyone began to grumble against Moses and Aaron, the God-appointed leaders of the community. “‘We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt,’ they said” (Numbers 14:4). They even talked about stoning them (Numbers 14:10). Stoning Moses? See how distorted their thinking had become!
Such is how a single bad report can inflame an entire community and bring the leaders under severe oppression. What the grumblers and fault-finders did not realize was a point of enormous importance: in grumbling against the land and the leaders, the people were grumbling against God Himself. Their punishment was to never see the Promised Land—everyone who grumbled died in the forty-year wanderings in the desert.
With regard to this story, the very first question we have to ask ourselves is this: Do we think Wylie Prep is a work of the Lord? Let’s see. He moved on a few families years ago to start the school. He provided for their needs. He raised up people to give of their time, energy and resources. He brought teachers, leaders, board members, outstanding families and administrators. Then He told them they were going to move. They had to trust the Lord. Move where? God had a magnificent piece of property, surrounded by a Pecan grove and with a beautiful, spacious mansion sitting on a hill—just for them. Today our school sits on that property. Today our offices are in that mansion. Last year we experienced our largest growth ever, and we were written about in a local magazine.
When we complain and grumble about the school to others, we speak against something that the Lord really, really cares about. Are there some things we don’t have right? Yes, there is so much work yet to do. But there is a right way, a Godly way, to address issues and there is a seriously wrong way to talk about them also. Spreading bad reports is wrong. Even if one is seeing a legitimate problem, it is not good to spread the bad report to others not involved to enlist them in the cause. Gossip, which is speaking negatively about others when they are not present, and slander, which is maligning another’s character are wrong too. Along with grumbling and fault-finding, these sins against the community are most displeasing to the Lord.
Spreading bad reports is always wrong and always sinful. When we sidle up to others and spread bad reports about teachers, parents, leaders, the school, whatever—we are in fact thumbing our noses against the Lord. We are placing ourselves in opposition to a work the Lord has established. We are in fact setting ourselves against God. Not a smart place to be. And definitely not a good thing for our school.
The take-away from all this is easy: accept no bad reports. Not on Twitter, not on Facebook, not from another person directly. And what we say to those who are doing so is simple. We should look them straight in the eyes and say firmly and clearly: “We don’t do that here.”