“Now the Ephraimites asked Gideon, ‘Why have you treated us like this? Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight Midian?’ And they challenged him vigorously. But he answered them, ‘What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t the gleanings of Ephraim’s grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer? God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?’ At this, their resentment against him subsided.“
How often have we engaged with an angry person, but only left the interaction feeling angry and deeply hurt because the conversation had escalated quickly where we started “shooting arrows” at each other with our tongues?
When the Ephraimites complained (angrily) that they had been called out only belatedly into the battle, Gideon’s humble answer turned away their anger, instead of “shooting” back at them by saying things like, “I have called you out when we have done all the hard work, and you only needed to capture the leaders whom we had chased into your hands. And you have had great victory and benefits from this. What do you have to complain about?” (We can image how that conversation would go.)
The Lord teaches us in his wisdom, “A gentle answer makes anger disappear, but a rough answer makes it grow.” (Proverbs 15:1, ERV) This is a great lesson to learn as we humble ourselves before the Lord, and see things from his perspective, acknowledging that it’s God’s doing and will in our lives that preserve us in his grace, giving us anything that we have, and giving the glory to him, “God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?” May the Lord help us to keep looking to Jesus as we are challenged by others’ anger, and humble us to help turn their eyes to God as well, that anger would be disarmed, and love restored.