Last time we looked at the unfair criticism Gideon received from Ephraim following the battle against the Midianites. Today, let’s evaluate Gideon’s response to that criticism.
While much has been written about Gideon and his rout of Midian with just 300 men, that’s only part of the story. The war with Midian had two major components: 1). Gideon’s initial raid with 300 men; which was followed by; 2). a mopping up campaign involving the tribe of Ephraim.
Somewhere along the line, Gideon was stopped by the Ephraimites for a little heart-to-heart chat. After hearing their “vigorous challenge” Gideon had a choice to make. Pour some verbal gasoline on the fire, or try to put it out. He chose the latter:
But he (Gideon) answered them, “What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t the gleanings of Ephraim’s grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer?…What was I able to do compared to you?” At this, their resentment against him subsided. (Judges 8:2-3)
Whatever Gideon’s immediate feelings might have been, he controlled himself and treated his brothers more kindly than they deserved. With great wisdom, gentleness and diplomacy, Gideon praised his accusers. Gideon downplayed his role, and played up Ephraim’s accomplishments. As a result, their bitterness against him melted away. Never underestimate how far a little praise can go!
This story also highlights two of my favorite Proverbs related to managing conflict.
- A gentle answer turns away wrath,but a harsh word stirs up anger. (15:1)
- Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city. (16:32)
We’ve all been in tense situations when that “moment of truth” arrives. Whatever comes out of our mouth next will either cause the situation to escalate into something we’re gonna regret, or be defused so anger and resentment subside. It is at THAT moment when patience, gentleness, and self-control must take over. Someone has to be the stronger person, swallow their “rights,” and become tender and gentle. Otherwise words that never should be aired will be spoken; but never forgotten. –Dave
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