Misunderstanding Others' Actions

Successful living for God requires the ability to love and get along with other people. One of the greatest obstacles saints of God often have to deal with is misunderstanding another's actions. The Book of Joshua chapter 22 records a story, which almost resulted in a civil war between Israel and the tribes of Reuben and Gad.

When the conquest of Canaan was complete, Joshua released the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh to return to the east side of Jordan. As the tribes neared the Jordan, they became fearful that in future generations, other tribes might deny that they had an inheritance in Israel, so they built an altar before they crossed the Jordan. The altar was to be a witness (Joshua 22:27).

When the other tribes heard about the altar, they gathered all the tribes together to go up and kill the tribes of Reuben and Gad. They assumed that the actions of building an altar must be wrong. The children of Israel were only supposed to sacrifice at the tabernacle. Why would anyone build an altar if they weren't going to offer sacrifices? The building of an altar could only mean one thing: the children of Reuben and Gad had sinned and were offering sacrifices to other gods.

Great bloodshed was avoided only because they decided to talk and find out why the tribes of Reuben and Gad had done this. When the tribes of Reuben and Gad were questioned, it was found that they only had good motives. The altar was built to strengthen their relationship with the other tribes. 

Let us take the time to make sure we understand others' actions before we condemn them. Actions may often look bad, but that doesn't mean they are bad. Let there be enough love to believe that we can communicate with each other.