Monday, November 13 – Joshua 22:9-12
So the sons of Reuben, the sons of Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh returned home, leaving the sons of Israel at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan, to go to the land of Gilead, to the land of their possession in which they had settled, in accordance with the command of the Lord through Moses. When they came to the region of the Jordan which is in the land of Canaan, the sons of Reuben, the sons of Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan, a large altar in appearance. But the sons of Israel heard a report: “Behold, the sons of Reuben, the sons of Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh have built an altar at the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region of the Jordan, on the side belonging to the sons of Israel.” And when the sons of Israel heard about it, the entire congregation of the sons of Israel assembled at Shiloh to go up against them in battle.
We use the phrase knee-jerk reaction to describe a response that comes quickly and naturally. In those moments, we don’t stop to think, we just do. We may get carried away in anger because we feel justified in our response. The actions recorded in today’s passage triggered the Israelites’ anger because they hit a core piece of their identity—worship. A large altar could be used for the people of God, the pagans, or both. Instead of seeking unity with their brothers and asking the hard questions, their knee-jerk reaction was to turn against those they fought alongside.
When facing conflict in our relationships, this is frequently our temptation. When a matter triggers our anger, we move to react based on our feelings rather than working things through with the other person. Even in the church, when faced with conflict, we start to see others as enemies instead of family members. Viewing one another as family leads us to work through conflict so we can be unified in our mission together. In Ephesians 4:29 we are reminded how we are to interact with one another, “Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but if there is any good word for edification according to the need of the moment, say that, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” When we feel an angry, knee-jerk reaction coming on, we can remember Paul’s encouragement to respond graciously to others, regardless of how we feel. The Holy Spirit can equip us with self-control when we feel tempted to rise against those God has called us to love and unite with.
- When have you given a reaction that was not Christ-like because you felt justified in your anger?
- Who do you view as an enemy or someone that is against you?
- Pray for your enemy or those you have a conflict with.