Be Harsh, Be Gentle

What if you entered your hostel to find your fellow student alone in the room standing over your bed and making strange gestures? Or what if you came home to found your spouse sitting on your bed with a total stranger?

When the Israelites got to the Promised Land, Moses divided it among the tribes. It turned out that the Reubenites, Gadites and half of the tribe of Manasseh found themselves on the other side of River Jordan. Before they moved, Joshua blessed and charged them to keep the commandments of God (Josh22:1-5).

Sometime later, word quietly came to the other tribes of Israel – the people on the other side of River Jordan have erected an altar! Immediate conclusion: they are worshipping idols! These people are wicked, ungrateful, idol worshippers, disobedient, hateful, etc. Imagine the tabloids, radio and TV discussions and interviews, WhatsApp, Viber, FB, twitter, etc. agog with views of spin doctors. So the other tribes gathered together – for war. Let’s remove them. Let’s prevent them from soiling our hard-earned reputation (after 40+ years of struggle).

Otherwise, God may punish them and punish us. While they were preparing to go to war, someone said, “Hey, why don’t we find out why they did that in the first place before we even go to war?” So they sent a high powered delegation made up of the high and mighty. Anybody who was somebody attended the meeting. The Israelite position was univocal:

  • This altar you made is for nothing but idol worship
  • Our history is rife with such episodes and their terrible results
  • Pack your stuff because you are moving back with us

The Reubenites, Gadites and half the tribe of Manasseh, were calm. “We know the Lord and God knows our hearts. Brothers, we don’t even sacrifice on this altar. However, were anxious that our children and their children should also know our heritage (Deut 6.7; 11.19) and worship the Lord. Therefore, this altar is just a memorial”. The high powered delegation heaved a sigh. They were satisfied. Apologies were exchanged, hugs were exchanged, hands were clasped and shaken, and prayers were said. Then they went back with the good news.

I came away from this happy ending in Joshua 22 with a few lessons. Here they are:

  • Don’t be so gentle with wrongdoing (Prov27:5 Open rebuke is better than secret love.; Titus1:13This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith)
  • Be careful when you see something you think obviously looks wrong/bad (1Sam1:15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord)
  • Be courteous when you are responding even to painful accusations (Prov15.1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.)
  • Don’t be so harsh when you attempt to correct a wrong (2Tim4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.)

So should you be harsh or gentle? Be careful. Your friend may be trying to kill a scorpion on your bed and your spouse may be chatting with her long lost brother in your two-room house.

Stay focused, blest and ‘shalomious’ my friend, From your friend, Pastor Amoah