So the Reubenites and Gadites named the altar: It is a witness between us that the LORD is God. – Joshua 22:34
The story concluded above is illustrative of the dangers inherent when impure motives are assumed to exist behind benign actions. The Israelite tribes that lived east of the Jordan River constructed an altar of stones and the leaders of the western tribes immediately assumed that they intended to use it. Of course, if the eastern tribes did (use it … burn sacrifices upon it), they would have done so in disobedience of God’s clear command that such offerings should only be made at His tabernacle in Shiloh. This defiance of God’s commands could have invited God’s righteous wrath and the western tribes were frightened, angry, and ready to go to war over the prospect. Thankfully, wiser heads prevailed, an explanation was sought, and the potential conflict was averted.
Have you ever blown your top before all the facts had been gathered? How often might we avoid conflict by first simply listening to one another? Though an offense may occur, not all offenses are premeditated or intended. Before we react, we should avoid presumption, seek understanding, and aim for God’s best for all involved …
… unless, of course, we’re just looking for a fight.
Our souls may lose their peace and even disturb other people’s, if we are always criticizing trivial actions – which often are not real defects at all, but we construe them wrongly through our ignorance of their motives. – Teresa of Avila