by Barbara Latta
Assuming we know the motive behind someone’s actions can lead to dangerous judgments. Whether it is in marital relationships, friendships, or business connections, we can traverse into dangerous territory when we don’t gather all the facts before forming opinions.
We can learn a valuable lesson about how assumptions can hurt relationships from an incident that happened when the Israelites settled in the Promised Land.
After 40 years of wilderness wandering, they were finally there. They had fought against enemies, taken over lands, destroyed idol worship, and watched God perform miracles. Their war-weary bodies were ready to enjoy the provisions the land provided. They wanted to enjoy peace.
But as human nature does, discord raised its ugly head. Fingers pointed at a construction project at the river boundary. Tongues wagged, speculation abounded, and the weapons that had been put away were brought out and sharpened again.
Now the children of Israel heard someone say, “Behold, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh have built an altar on the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region of the Jordan—on the children of Israel’s side.” (Joshua 22:11 NKJV)
A squabble started because of dangerous hearsay.
Pointed fingers were based on a perceived intention. Imaginations grew so much that violence was planned against their fellow countrymen (v.12). Someone saw an altar and assumed it was for sacrifices. Sacrifices were only to be offered in the place designated by the Lord Almighty.
What treachery is this that you have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the Lord, in that you have built for yourselves an altar, that you might rebel this day against the Lord? (Joshua 22:16)
The accusers sent Phinehas, the priest, along with some representatives, to discover the meaning of what Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh had done. Which is what should have been at the top of the agenda, not plans of attack.
After inquiries, it was discovered the stone monument was built as a witness for future generations. The three tribes on the east side of the Jordan River didn’t want their descendants to be cut off because of the boundaries. They were declaring a memorial between themselves and the rest of the country. They were not building an altar for sacrificial offerings.
The war mongers found out the pile of rocks they considered a breach against God was actually something complementary toward them from their brothers. A split among the Israelites was averted by the quick actions of Phinehas the priest.
Judge not, and you shall not be judged. (Luke 6:37)
It is easy to jump to conclusions when we hear or see something we don’t agree with. Our minds conceive the part we want to believe, and unless we take the time to discover intent, we can react rashly as the insulted groups did. Division almost resulted among Jehovah’s newly established lands due to judging others.
And the battle of words sometimes breeds harm in Christ’s body today. Unfortunately, this is how church division and dissolved relationships can occur. And when unbelievers see Christians reacting in ungodly ways, the witness of the gospel is harmed.
He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him. (Proverbs 18:13)
The longer assumptions are left unchecked, the stronger the roots grow. We can navigate this curve on our sometimes rocky road in life when we follow biblical guidelines against impulsive thoughts and use wisdom,. We are then able to discern the heart of situations.
Peace comes to those who through patience and prayer seek the Lord for counsel rather than leaning to our own understanding. In this way, judgmental actions can stop before disaster strikes.
What are your thoughts? Please feel free to join the conversation.
Assuming we know the motive behind someone’s actions can lead to dangerous judgments. Whether it is in marital relationships, friendships, or business connections, we can traverse into dangerous territory when we don’t gather all the facts before forming opinions (click to tweet)
It is easy to jump to conclusions when we hear or see something we don’t agree with. Our minds conceive the part we want to believe, and unless we take the time to discover intent, we can react rashly. (click to tweet)