Oh...I Guess I Was Wrong

There was an interesting encounter that happened in Israel’s history that we can learn a lot from in our day. In Joshua, we have the record of the great Jewish leader leading Israel into their promised land. Finally! They go in, this time being faithful to God, and take over the land He had always promised them. Chapter after chapter we read about them taking over this tribe and winning this battle. All of the Israelites fought together for every tribe's land that was promised to them. Then, the fighting dies down and everyone starts heading back to their portion of the promised land. Now when we get to chapter twenty two of Joshua we read how three tribes (the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh) went home. When they got home, these tribes decided to do something: “And when they came to the region of the Jordan that is in the land of Canaan, the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by the Jordan, an altar of imposing size.” (Joshua 22:10) So naturally when you think “altar” you think of “worship”. Why else would you have an altar?
Well this is exactly what the rest of Israel thought as well. They assumed that these tribes were practicing idol worship. Seems plausible doesn’t it? Where there's smoke there is fire. You erected an altar, you must be worshiping another god. And the Israelites knew what God thought of worshiping anyone else. This violated the first two of the ten commandments! So Israel sends out some people to threaten them over the situation. “Thus says the whole congregation of the LORD, ‘What is this breach of faith that you have committed against the God of Israel in turning away this day from following the LORD by building yourselves an altar this day in rebellion against the LORD?” (Joshua 22:16)
They basically were saying, “What is wrong with you? Don’t you know what God is going to do with us because of this idol worship?!”  So what did the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh do? They told them that this couldn’t be further  from the truth! “No, but we did it from fear that in time to come your children might say to our children, ‘What have you to do with the LORD, the God of Israel? For the LORD has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you, you people of Reuben and people of Gad. You have no portion in the LORD.’ So your children might make our children cease to worship the LORD. Therefore we said, ‘Let us now build an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice, but to be a witness between us and you, and between our generations after us, that we do perform the service of the LORD in his presence with our burnt offerings and sacrifices and peace offerings, so your children will not say to our children in time to come, “You have no portion in the LORD.”’ (Joshua 22:24–27) Essentially, this was a reminder, not an altar for idol worship! We want to ensure that our kids and grandkids remember why we are here and so we built this thing for that purpose! That changes things a little bit doesn't it?
What if the Israelites would have acted on their assumptions? What if, instead they had just acted? They would have been in their right to wipe them out for worshiping other gods. Except…they weren’t, were they?
How often do we find ourselves in this same position? We either see or hear something and are so convinced that it's one thing and then we find out it was something completely different. We act first and find out the facts later. Or we gossip first and worry about the truth of the matter some other time. We looooove jumping to conclusions, don’t we? Let this be a learning point for us that we find out the truth first before we get ahead of ourselves. We must stop jumping to conclusions! This is a prolific problem in our society today. Like a cancer that is spreading, we are infested with snap judgements that are often wrong. We love to assume, even though our assumptions are often wrong. And yes I do mean to say often. We see this in so many facets of life. People jumping to conclusions on social media in the comments section, the national media indicting someone before they even get to trial, or us assuming things of your coworkers, family members and people at church that are based on very little facts and all guesswork.
As an example, there was a famous pastor that posted something on social media that I thought was a little off. I trusted this pastor, but I wasn't sure about this statement they made. But I couldn’t just simply call them up and have a conversation about it. So I sent the post to one of my friends and asked them what they thought about it. I thought the pastor meant X, my friend thought the pastor meant Y. Then the next day, the pastor got so many negative comments that he explained himself and he meant Z! What he meant my friend and I weren’t even thinking of! And that taught me to always give people more leeway because I could be the one that is mistaken. And that is what it boils down to isn’t it? That we don’t want to stop and consider that our opinion or interpretation about something could be wrong! Oh no, of course our conclusions about something are always correct, aren't they? We could never misinterpret something, right? Our pride tends to blind us in more ways than we even realize. Always give other people some leeway. Don’t be quick to jump to conclusions. Until you have all the facts, give people the benefit of the doubt. Instead of being quick to judge,  be quick to listen (see James 1:19) and you may learn the truth!

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