As I was reading this account I observed some mini-lessons in the art of living… The Israelites were people just like we are people and the problems that plague us plagued them and vice versa.
The problem of assumptions… there is a lot of assuming going on in this story. The 2.5 tribes assume that the rest of Israel might forget them so they acted in a way that seemed reasonable to them. They built an altar of remembrance. However, the remaining tribes saw the altar and assumed it was for sacrifice not remembrance and almost went to war to destroy the assumed evil. Assumptions are like that, they create problems that are not present or they read situations through a len that isn’t accurate. Had the tribes spoken about the issues instead of assuming and reacting, this entire chapter could have played out very differently.
The power of face-to-face communication… fortunately the tribes on the west of the Jordan chose to send the priest and tribal leaders to confront and talk with their brothers rather than simply react. Talking saved the day. War would have been devastating to the people of God. But in talking –true listening and speaking –they heard the truth and were able to let go of their assumptions and allow cooler heads to prevail.
Face-to-face communication doesn’t always save the day. Sometimes deep differences exist and sometimes these differences cannot be easily settled. But when the differences are built on faulty assumptions repair is generally readily available.
As I step back from these thoughts I realized that the Lord was speaking to me about the importance of relationships. Whether in families or church or small groups there are people problems and God is reminding me that talking them out and working to repair is always the best solution. Acting on assumptions and rushing to judgment never helps diffuse situations.
God longs for us to live in relationship with one another and with Him. And relationship takes work!
Are there any relationships in your life that need to be repaired? God is asking me this question, too…
Lord, Thank you for the people You have placed in my life. Help me to do everything I can to keep those relationships healthy. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.