"But while they were still in Canaan and when they came to a place called Geliloth near the Jordan River, the men of Reuben, Gad, and half-tribe of Manasseh stopped to build a large and imposing altar. The rest of Israel heard that the people of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had built an altar at Geliloth at the edge of the land of Canaan, on the west side of the Jordan River. So the whole community of Israel gathered at Shiloh and prepared to go to war against them." Joshua 22:10-12
The warriors of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh had received Joshua's blessing for a job well done (their seven-plus-year commitment to assist the other tribes in claiming their land of promise). They were on their way home--to the east side of the Jordan. Before they reached the river, it was decided to erect a huge monument they called "Ed." The Hebrew meaning is witness, testimony, evidence.
The motivation for building the altar was fear. As they marched toward the Jordan, a gnawing doubt, a "what if," began to build. What if someday the children of Israel forget our joint lineage to Jacob and deny us the right to come back and take part in the sacrifices and offerings to our LORD God? They weren't even out of Canaan before fear and doubt began to divide the nation. They doubted their brethren and feared they'd be excluded. And the rest of the tribes? They heard a rumor and believed the worst of their kinsmen.
What bothers me most about this development is that, after all they've gone through--all the years of learning the blessings of the LORD for seeking Him and the consequences for doing what was right in their own eyes--neither side sought the LORD before acting. We shake our heads and think, "tsk-tsk, they should have known better."
But, are we any different? Do we jump to conclusions and act on what we've heard without bothering to check it out with the LORD? Do we follow what we think is a good idea, without getting wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit? Are we quick to see a lack in a sister's attitude and excuse any lack in our own lives? Has someone hurt our feelings, or--worse yet--have we hurt someone by repeating a piece of information to someone else that should have been offered in prayer for the Father's ears only?
We all have the same Savior, Jesus Christ. He paid the same price for each one of us. The number and degree of our sins doesn't determine the price. He paid everything for all of us with His life. The same Savior paying the same price makes us one. We have all been loved with the same love by this same Jesus.
"But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's grace that you have been saved!) For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:4-6
The unity in the body of Christ should be our "Ed." The motive for our witness, our testimony, is Love.
"This is real love--not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us." 1 John 4:10-12
His love brought to full expression in us...love toward one another.
"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance...love will last forever!." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
This is the love that should be our testimony, our witness to the world. Yet, how many times do we see Christians condemning other believers for something they have said--for an opinion they hold that might be controversial? Do you read comments on Facebook, especially in Christian Groups? Have you taken note of the comments flinging back and forth about the latest rumor from the White House? About the First Family? Did any of you watch the Royal Wedding and hear the sermon about love? The ceremony was barely over when the first negative comments appeared. It made me wonder, did anyone listen to the truth presented in the hymns? The sermon? Unfortunately, this is no longer the exception. Tearing down someone else, even a believer, has become the new normal.
What are we to do? I suggest we ask the LORD to turn His spotlight on our hearts. Ask Him to expose any hypocrisy in our heart attitudes, then repent and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in the ways that please and glorify God. Let's take a bath in the Word of God for it is...
"...alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires." Hebrews 4:12
When we hear something and we are tempted to take on the heavy weight of a negative response, let's consult God and learn what He would have us do.
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8
These are the guidelines we should follow. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with love and virtue. When we consult Him first, we won't fall prey to rumors, doubts and fear. We won't start a civil war in the body of Christ. We'll build each other up in His most Holy Love...and the world will see that we are united.
by Marilyn Allison