Four weeks ago my book Fearless by Faith written with Brother Andrew was published. Not everything we wrote made it into the final text. The following is one of the devotions about Gideon that we had to cut. It addresses how to deal with dissension in our community.
“Then the men of Ephraim said to (Gideon), ‘What is this that you have done to us, not to call us when you went to fight against Midian?’ And they accused him fiercely” (Judges 8:1).
Perhaps the hardest conflicts for us as Christians come within our own ranks. The devil loves to provoke us and divide us so that we are no longer aware of his tactics. Gideon’s biggest problem wasn’t Midian. It was within his compatriots.
The first protest came from the men of Ephraim. The problem was a family squabble. This sibling rivalry likely simmered for centuries. These well-trained fighters were offended because Gideon didn’t summon them first to fight Midian.
Was the reputation of Ephraim legitimate? In Psalm 78 recounting God’s mighty works is this observation: “The Ephraimites, armed with the bow, turned back on the day of battle.” Sometime in their history they had failed their country. We don’t know when or where. Further, they are accused of not keeping God’s covenant, refusing to walk according to His law, and forgetting the wonders God had shown them.
Now the half tribe demands an accounting from Gideon: why didn’t you call on us first? Perhaps they wanted to redeem their reputation and are offended that Gideon didn’t give them that opportunity. It’s a tense moment. A serious test of Gideon’s leadership.
Gideon didn’t try to defend himself, and he didn’t malign the courage of his brothers. He chose humility and gentle words. “What have I done now in comparison with you? God has given into your hands the princes of Midian.” What a wise response! His words calmed their anger.
We spend too much time defending our reputations. Gideon knew what God had told him, and God had provided the victory. He didn’t feel compelled to explain his actions.
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