When someone lashes out at us with an unfair attack (or to us, what seems like an unfair attack), how do we respond?
The natural response is to attack back. To return harsh word for harsh word. Another response is to just sulk in your anger or hurt. Neither of these are good responses, and Gideon knew that.
Gideon had asked several of the tribes to help him in his attack on Midian, but he didn’t ask the tribe of Ephraim for help until the battle was well underway. As a result, the Ephraimites felt like they were just cleaning up what Gideon and the other tribes started. They felt left out. They felt unwanted. They felt the only reason why Gideon asked them for help was because they were kind of a last resort. And so they said to Gideon,
Why have you treated us like this? Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight Midian? (1)
And the Bible says that they criticized Gideon sharply.
How did Gideon respond? He didn’t attack. He didn’t sulk. Rather, he said calmly, “But what you did was far greater than anything we did. Sure, we started the attack, but it was you that actually killed the Midianite leaders.”
And by soothing their egos, Gideon was able to resolve the situation.
In Proverbs, it says
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (15:1)
What about you? How do you respond when someone attacks you unfairly? Sometimes responding in a right way means swallowing our pride. It means being humble.
But if you really care about the person, aren’t our relationships worth that price?.