Scripture Read: Judges 8:1-3 Then the men of Ephraim said to him, “What is this thing you have done to us, not calling us when you went to fight against Midian?” And they contended with him vigorously. But he said to them, “What have I done now in comparison with you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? “God has given the leaders of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb into your hands; and what was I able to do in comparison with you?” Then their anger toward him subsided when he said that.
Application: Jealousy is an interesting emotion. Here instead of being delighted that their kindred had been used by God to begin the breaking of Midian’s power over Israel and celebrate that God privileged the men of Ephraim to be the ones that captured the two kings and slay them, they are jealous of the fact that God chose Gideon to lead this effort. Gideon certainly did not volunteer for this task! Why do we become jealous? What drives that emotion? There are many reasons, but they all have their roots in pride. In this case it may have been two fold. Gideon was from the tribe of Manasseh and it was Manasseh and Ephraim that were the two leading tribes in the central sector of Israel, so Ephraim may have resented being left out of what was now a glorious victory – we cannot say the emotions would have been the same if Midian had thoroughly destroyed Gideon’s forces. That might be a different matter then, however, this was a victory and perhaps Ephraim felt threatened of losing position.
Also, reputation might be an issue, after all this was the tribe that produced Joshua (Numbers 13:8, 16) – the judge of all judges...next to Moses...so the reputation of being the leader may have been a part of their fabric. In any case Ephraim was jealous and confronted Gideon as though he had done something wrong. How can we discern between a sincere issue that should be raised versus that ole nasty emotion of jealousy? For example, if God had told Gideon to have the men of Ephraim lead in the battle, then this complaint would be valid. So how do we discern the difference? The best way is to ask some hard questions. Consider them:
a. Authenticity of complaint: If the men of Ephraim felt they should be involved in breaking the hold of Midian over Israel, why didn’t they step up to the plate sooner? Why didn't they do something before now? When we complain about something, have we made sure our complaint is legitimate?
b. Motives: Did Ephraim really want to help Israel to be free or in reality help themselves to the booty and the fame? When we feel we have been slighted, what is our motive. When we see someone that has something that we have or believe we should have had, what is the reason we feel that way?
c. Issue: What is the “bottom line”. For Ephraim - Free the land or Feed the ego. Should it not be viewed that what is important is that it got done - not who gets the applause? Doesn’t all applause belong to God? When we come together and no one cares who gets the credit...a lot can get done! We must ask ourselves “what was the issue that needed to be dealt with?” That answer should be our bottom line. If what God desired was accomplished, why do we have emotions of resentment or envy, instead of joy and contentment?
Meditation Questions: Consider these questions personally. When you complain about something, have you made sure your complaint is legitimate? When you feel you have been slighted, do you check your motive? When you see someone that has something that you don’t have or believe you should have had, why do you feel that way? When you succeed you get the credit, is that fair? Why? Why not? What is the difference between credit and glory? Doesn’t all applause belong to God?