«The words of the wicked are, «Lie in wait for blood,» but the mouth of the upright will deliver them» (Proverbs 12:6).
After Gideon and his three hundred soldiers defeated the army of Midian and its allies, the families of the tribe of Ephraim complained to the leader for not being called to fight. But Gideon did not want to come into conflict with them, so he very politely said: » ‘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 delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. And what was I able to do in comparison with you? Then their anger toward him subsided when he said that» (Judges 8:2, 3). That answer appeased the wrath of the Ephraimites.
Some time later a similar situation arose with Jephthah, who had defeated the Ammonites. Once again, the Ephraimites angrily complained to the leader for not calling on them to fight. But Jephthah’s answer was different from Gideon’s: «My people and I were in a great struggle with the people of Ammon; and when I called you, you did not deliver me out of their hands. So when I saw that you would not deliver me, I took my life in my hands and crossed over against the people of Ammon; and the Lord delivered them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me this day to fight against me?» (Judges 12:2, 3). From words and complaints they went on to war. Forty-two thousand Ephraimites died on the battlefield (verse 6).
How much can a problem grow when you don’t solve it the right way? How far can the confrontation lead you? Gideon faced the haughty attitude of the Ephraimites in a different way from that of Jephthah. When you become hot-headed you are inclined to make foolish decisions. Also, don’t forget that your confrontations affect others and can destroy their lives. It is very probable that not all of the tribe of Ephraim were as arrogant as those who lashed out against the leaders of Israel, yet their thickheaded attitude sentenced to death forty-two thousand Ephraimites.
Avoiding confrontation and favoring dialogue and agreement gives better results than open confrontation. Also, lowering oneself to the level of boasting can bring terrible consequences. It takes patience, as the Word of the Lord says: «The end of a thing is better than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit (Ecclesiastes 7:8).
May the Lord grant you the patience of the saints today (Revelation 14:12).