Have you ever wondered how rumors get started? Sometimes they aren’t malicious. Sometimes an individual misunderstands what they hear or see and speak about it. Yet, at other times one individual is mad at another and simply sets out to ruin them by spreading lies as quickly as possible. As believers, it is important we guard our speech and know our facts so we don’t participate in sinful acts of gossip or the destruction of another.
In Joshua 22, we read about the Israelites concern for the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh. They heard these tribes built an altar to themselves, thus turning their back on Jehovah the moment they were given their portion of the Promised Land. Rather than responding to gossip, the Israelite leaders put Matthew 18:15-18 into practice by going to these tribes to determine what had truly taken place.
Joshua 22:16-20 tells of Phinehas, the son of the priest Eleazar, going to the tribal leaders to inquire about the altar. He even gives them an out in case they had committed the sin. Fortunately, the tribal leaders were able to respond positively in Joshua 22:21-30 and explain they only built a replica of the altar to the Lord God as a reminder of their connection to Him and to their fellow Israelites. They had no intention of offering sacrifices on that altar or worshiping there. The misunderstanding was settled simply by approaching one another in love and sharing openly.
Have you ever been on either side of a misunderstanding? Of course you have; we all have. The easiest way to avoid misunderstandings is to maintain open, honest dialogue and to steer clear of gossip, even when it comes in the form of a prayer request [Proverbs 16:28; Proverbs 26:20].
Is there someone you need to clear the air with today? If so, don’t delay implementing the Matthew 18 principle. You’ll both be better off because of it.
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