Have you ever done something out of good intentions only to have it misunderstood, to have your actions misjudged, to be accused of doing wrong? Most people think the worst. It happens all the time and it is not a new phenomenon.
In Joshua 22, two tribes and half of a third tribe are leaving the promised land to cross and settle on the east bank of the Jordan River, whereas all the other tribes would settle west of the Jordan. The Easterners are concerned that in the future the majority living west of Jordan might forget the history and say to those east of Jordan, ‘You have no right to worship our God, Jehovah, because you live over there.’ (Joshua 22:24, 25) So they build an altar like the one in front of the tabernacle as a sign that those both east and west worship the same God.
The westerners wrongly assume they are setting up this altar to worship false gods and they rally the troops for war. War is averted because of several wise acts by both sides. If we would follow these simple steps we could also avoid some battles at church, at work and at home. Here is what they did as seen in Joshua 22:
1. The offended Westerners send wise and godly representatives to talk with the Easterners. Ask, don’t just ass-u-me you understand someone else’s motive.
2. These representatives clearly state the offense and why it is so grievous. They do not “sugar coat” the issue or act like it is “no big deal”. They lay out the problem.
3. The misunderstood ones don’t react and get mutually offended, as it is so easy to do. They stay cool and stay humble.
4. The Easterners clearly explain their true motive for the altar and affirm their desire for a good relationship.
5. The offended ones calmly listen and humbly admit their mistake.
Clearly explaining the concern, remaining cool headed and humble, clearly explaining the true motives, listening, not getting mutually offended, being wiling to admit your error – all these are elements that led to peace, not war and bloodshed. All these are timeless elements it would be good for us to practice the next time we are ready to amass the troops for war. But wouldn’t it be even better to just assume the best of others in the first place?
No matter how evil their intentions might appear it is quite possible we are totally misreading their true intent. Love assumes the best.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It … is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it … is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
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