Judges 8

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Scripture

Judges 8:1-3

“Then the men of Ephraim said to him, “What is this that you have done to us, not to call us when you went to fight against Midian?” And they accused him fiercely. And he said to them, “What have I done now in comparison with you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the grape harvest of Abiezer? God has given into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. What have I been able to do in comparison with you?” Then their anger against him subsided when he said this.”
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Observation

The men of Ephraim were angry with Gideon for not inviting them to fight against Midian from the very beginning. They felt neglected and overlooked (John Gill exposition) and were envious that Gideon got all the credit for defeating Midian.
Instead of celebrating with Gideon after they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to him, they criticized his leadership. Scripture says that they “accused him fiercely”.  Gideon’s humble response to their criticism, as he made them aware that what God allowed them to accomplish was greater than what he accomplished because they closed out the war, caused the Ephraimites anger to subside.
 
Understanding

Pride was at the root of the Ephraimites’ anger, but Gideon’s humility calmed them down.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭15:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Instead of adding fuel to the fire, Gideon’s humble response to the Ephraimites’ complaints silenced their critical spirit and resentment towards him. Although Gideon was the general, placed in that position by God, and the Ephraimites were in the wrong by complaining to their leader and disrespecting him due to envy and pride, Gideon did not use his position as leverage or try to make a right out of two wrongs. Instead, he humbled himself and that caused the Ephraimites to change their behavior towards him.

Life Application

“One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭29:23‬ ‭ESV‬‬
 
Laying down our rights for others can become very difficult, especially when we feel attacked and criticized. However, in this story, we see that even great leaders did it. Humility is not a sign of weakness, but God’s Word says that it actually brings honor. Pride is what brings destruction in our lives. (Prov. 18:12)
Pride brings destruction in our relationships and a prideful heart also affects our relationship with Jesus, so let’s be wise and choose humility over pride.
 
Holy Spirit, help us to walk in humility and choose to love and serve others instead of fighting for our own rights. Help us to lay down our rights for others as we continue to live in the fullness of Your grace and mercy. Amen. 
 
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-Michelle Gaddi