How do you look at things? Before you make a determination on something, do you research all the facts, and maybe ask a few questions?
Or do you just assume you know what a person means and then just go with it? Because after all, you know your assumption must be right!
My husband Gary is usually quite analytical. Normally before making a decision, he wants to find out the why, where and how of something.
Me? I tend to go the other direction. I don’t want to think about it too long – I want to act! Unfortunately, that’s not always been a good thing – like I wrote about briefly in Joy Bubbling Through Tears. A lot of times my quick on-the-spot decision making has lead me into making the wrong interpretation of what is actually going on.
Thankfully, we’re all works in progress with our God as He continues to mold and shape us.
The other day I was reminded of a passage in the Bible which showed me I’m not alone in making rash (and many times wrong) decisions. So for those of you who tend to make “jump-start” decisions like me, take heart and be encouraged.
The portion of Scripture I was reading was Joshua 22, where I found that the Israelites had come to a wrong conclusion about some of their brothers – the eastern tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh.
Back in Joshua 1:1-2, Moses had died, and now the Lord had made Joshua the leader of the clan. They were getting ready to finally head across the Jordan into the promised land!
However the Reubenites, Gadites and half-tribe of Manasseh had previously decided that they wanted to remain around Gilead on the east side of the Jordan, because the land there was good for raising their livestock (Numbers 32:1-6).
Moses was still the leader back at that time, and it was eventually decided that the 2-1/2 tribes could remain there, if they joined with the other tribes as they battled for the land on the other side of the Jordan – the promised land. They agreed (Numbers 32:20-27).
So jumping forward to Joshua 22, the war has been won, and the 2-1/2 tribes start heading back to their new homeland in Gilead (v. 9).
As those tribes got ready to cross back over into their territory, they decide to build an altar (v. 10). The Israelites find out about it, and make a hasty decision to go to war against the 2-1/2 tribes, thinking that the altar was an altar of rebellion – their brothers have decided to break away from the Lord their God (v. 11-20).
The Reubenites, Gadites and half-tribe of Manasseh quickly deny the Israelites’ claim, letting their brothers know that the altar was instead to be a witness standing tall throughout the generations. They wanted future generations to know that even though they themselves were living on the east side of the Jordan, they belonged to the Israelite clan, and followed the Lord Almighty (v. 21-29).
I love what they named the altar: “A Witness Between Us that the LORD is God” (v. 34 NIV).
Well needless to say, the Israelites rejoiced that their brothers had not acted unfaithfully, and they left them alone and headed back to their land to start their new lives.
So where is this all going? What kind of point am I trying to make?
It’s this: Be careful. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read an email or heard someone say something I “perceive” is about me – and I’ve taken it totally the wrong way! If you find yourself getting hurt by words, the best thing to do is to go and ask the person exactly what was meant (see Matthew 18:15). It may just be a misunderstanding!
On the flip-side, please also be careful with the words you say or write yourself.
When writing an email – sit back and take a couple good looks at it before hitting that “send” button. Maybe keep it as a draft and wait for a couple days. And then pray. Pray that you are saying the right words.
And the words you verbally speak to someone? Watch out – and I am speaking from experience because this is an issue I struggle with a lot! My favorite book of the Bible is James. Why? Because every time I read through it I’m convicted once again of so many areas where I need to rely totally on God. Especially James 3:1-12 where it talks about guarding your speech.