Balaam’s Maxim

A good motto of any faithful Christian should be the statement of fact that Balaam made, but didn’t embrace after he stated it. King Balak was in a panic about Israelite squatters who represented a Moabite takeover threat. He was desperate to rid himself of this troublesome potential and called on Balaam, a man of God (Numbers 22:8-9) with an attempted bribe to compel him to curse the children of Israel. God told Balaam the he was not to go and do that. Balaam’s response to Balak’s emissaries is a classic: “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the LORD my God to do less or more” (Numbers 22:18).

This maxim is a two-edged sword. First, without God’s authority behind what we say and do, it is just so much hot air (religiously speaking) and vain action. Therefore, if we want to please God, nothing and no one has the right or authority to dictate our course of profession or action except God; “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Since “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17), if one cannot find authority for a speech or an activity in the word of God, it is a false faith that motivates it, and condemned. Second, if we innovate or change what God has revealed, we are going “beyond the command of the Lord,” which is virtually ignoring God’s will in order to accommodate our own desires; and that cannot be good!

One cannot, for love nor money, adjust or ignore God’s will with impunity; and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). Unfortunately (and just like Balaam), people often give up on God’s Word for something more convenient, more popular or more lucrative. Balaam is a reminder that disobedience has its “reward.” Evidently, the allure of sin wooed Balaam into a compromised relationship with Moab and, not long after this incident, Joshua dispatched Balaam (Joshua 13:22). At the final reckoning, Jehovah will dispatch the rest. As the man of God spoke, let us do, nothing less and nothing more; it is Balaam’s maxim.