Wisdom, Tact, And A Soft Answer Keeps The Unity

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.  Judges 8:1-3.

". . . And they challenged him vigorously."
The time of victory is also a time of great challenge. It is a time when the enemy will strike in rather unexpected ways. Therefore, great times of victory call for divine wisdom, great tact, and soft answers to diffuse the enemy's dynamite! The interesting thing about this "internal" attack was that Gideon was still in pursuit of the Midianite kings, Zebah and Zalmunna. The battle was not even completely over and yet his fellow Israelites were vigorously attacking to distract him.

The people of Ephraim would not rejoice over the victory. They were more concerned with the fact that they felt denied of the opportunity to have been involved in the initial battle. They felt robbed of the opportunity to equally share the glory in the defeat of the Midianites. They were ready to cause confusion. They were unconcerned about the fact that this was a national victory for all Israel and not a personal victory for Gideon. They were also unaware of how God had strictly purged down the army from thirty-two thousand to three hundred precisely to avoid the kind of boasting the Ephraimites were seeking to do! But God gave Gideon wisdom to diffuse the situation. Gideon masterfully evaded the trap of his adversaries.

In the face of vigorous challenge, which could have distracted Gideon from pursuing the Midianite kings to seal the victory, Gideon calmly reminded the Ephraimites that his own accomplishments and that of his clan were nothing compared to the glorious feats of the Ephraimites. This humble but wise answer shut the mouths of the Ephraimites. "At this, their resentment against him subsided." Gideon was able to keep the unity of Israel with wisdom, tact, humility, and a soft answer.

The Bible is so amazing! The Word tells us that a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1).  When faced with vigorous opposition and resentment, we can either choose to respond harshly and escalate the strife or we can choose to humble ourselves and respond with a gentle answer to diffuse the situation. The choice we make can have dire results.

Would you take a moment to reflect over the times when you have responded to provocation with a harsh response? Did it really work? What happened to those relationships after your harsh response? How about the times when you responded to vigorous attacks and resentment with humility and a soft answer? It is true: Wisdom, humility, and a soft answer will always win the day against harshness and a sharp tongue.
Prayer: Lord, please give me the grace to bridle my tongue even when I am vigorously opposed by resentful people. Amen.