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: Gideon teaches us two great lessons here when it comes to choosing how to avoid conflict with unreasonable people. We must understand that first we have to make a conscious decision of how we want to live. If we desire what God encourages in
Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men
- then before we even encounter this situation we must have already made a lifestyle choice to avoid conflict if and when possible. I say “possible” because sometimes we must enter into conflict, but if we are honest much of the conflict we encounter could be avoided if we chose to seek peace. Now, let’s learn from Gideon. His response reveals two attitudes of the heart that we should imitate if we desire to avoid conflict. First, Gideon exhibits no pride: “But he said to them, “What have I done now in comparison with you?” Gideon still does not see himself as some great person, he is just a vessel that God has chosen to use.
So instead of getting into a bragging contest about who has done what, he just takes the lower road which is actually the higher road in God’s eyes. There is nothing wrong with feeling good about the things we do that are right when it comes to our walk with the Lord. However, when we begin to think that we alone accomplished it or that “God is lucky to have me” a fall will be right around the corner. If Gideon had decided to shoot back at the men of Ephraim “well God chose me, not you!” he would suddenly have found himself with a war on two fronts! By remaining humble, he took nothing away from God, yet left the men of Ephraim with their sense of integrity.
By taking the humble road Gideon also models the second heart attitude that is important here. The principle is found in Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. Our best chance to avoid a verbal conflict is this truth. Stop focusing on who is right, or if you got your point across. As I said, obviously there are times we have to confront an issue and it will cause conflict, but we will not look at those instances at this time. When it is not an issue worth dying for, try applying Prov. 15:1 – you will find your life having more peace than war! The sad part for the men of Ephraim is that they continue this behavior and it destroys them when Jephthah draws the line in Chapter 12, which we will see sometime in the future.
Meditation Questions: When you are confronted with a conflict, what are the steps you take? Are they planned and prayed through or are they reactionary? How many ways do you show that you seek peace? If you cannot name any, what does that show? Do you try to notice your volume when dealing with a conflict? Is that important? Why? Why is it wrong to seek “peace at any cost”? Peace is very important, but what is most important? Why do you say that? What does that show?