When we lived in Colorado I had a horse I named Josiah (In heaven I may need to apologize to King Josiah, but my horse was good and zealous like him)
I used to love riding out on the open prairie of Colorado with him, where there are no fences and only miles and miles of prairie, cactus, prairie dog towns, and a particular plant Josiah loved to jump over, the Spanish Bayonet. The Spanish Bayonet resembles exactly that – it has long, thin, hard spikes up to about 3 feet long (1m) arranged like a bouquet splaying out in all directions. We would be at a gallop and I’d try to steer him around the plants, but he would ignore me and head right for them so he could jump.
He loved jumping those things, and anything else that height as well, which is unfortunate because my son on his tricycle was that height.
The tricycle incident
Brian was then 3 and he had a tricycle that he rode all over the property. This particular day he got himself into a mess as only a 3 year old boy can. Somehow he managed to get himself and his tricycle into Josiah’s corral, and was riding around full speed chasing the horse from one end of the corral to the other playing ‘tag’. Barb came screaming to me that Josiah was in a panic and going to kill our son and to come quickly!
As I ran to to the corral I saw Josiah running full speed towards Brian, and with perfect timing jumped completely over him, his hoofs missing Brian’s head with plenty of daylight to spare. He did it 2x that we saw before I arrived to vault over the top rail of the corral and in one motion pick up Brian and lift him out of the corral to Barb’s waiting arms. Whew! Close call. Brian thought he was playing tag with the horse, and maybe the horse thought that too, but we could see the danger.
How we initially understand situations determines faith or fear, boldness or cowardice, believing the best or believing the worst of someone. We and the Lord see the same situation; Do we want His perspective or ours? Do we jump to conclusions or wait for all the facts? Was it a horse intent on killing our son, or a game of tag?
Barb and I concluded Josiah’s good nature caused him to jump over Brian, but he was agitated that Brian was in his ‘space’. Game or not, it was a dangerous situation, but no malice on the part of the horse was evident. In fact it was his tender care to jump over Brian the proved he meant him no harm.
That part – whether our horse intended harm or not – could not be known at the first. We had to gather all the facts and see how he treated Brian before coming to that conclusion. Had we assumed he wanted to kill him it would have meant I would have had the horse destroyed. If we draw conclusions for the worst upon initially encountering a situation we might react with offense or anger, when none of that was intended.
Who is Ed you may ask?
In Joshua 22 we have the story of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh setting up an altar, a mizbe’ach in Hebrew, at their border with the other 10 tribes of Israel. A replica of the original sacred altar used by Aaron and Moses was never done before, so the other 10 tribes thought Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh were going to usurp the authority of the priesthood and start making their own sacrifices. The 10 tribes gathered themselves for war against their brethren.
When the counsel was called before the attack, the 2 1/2 tribes explained it was not as they assumed, for that altar was not built to make sacrifices upon, but rather as a witness on their border so all would know that they were following the Lord God of Israel alone. The 10 tribes saw the altar and assumed the worst, while the intent of the 2 1/2 tribes was to show their zeal and faithfulness to God.
At that point all 12 tribes decided to name the altar Ed. The Hebrew word Ed translated into English and using English alphabet, means witness or testimony. That marker, that boundary altar intended to be a statement of faith by the 2 1/2 tribes, was mistakenly understood to be a statement of rebellion by the other 10 tribes.
Don’t jump to conclusions
We could have concluded Josiah was trying to kill Brian. He thought he was playing tag. We had to gather the facts before making a right judgment on the situation about Josiah’s intent and motive. 2 1/2 tribes built an altar to tell the world they were serving the God of Israel, 10 tribes thought they were usurping God given ordinances. It took time and talking before they understood the motives of the 2 1/2 tribes.
Why at first did they automatically assume their brothers were guilty of sin? Why were they so willing to go to war based on those mistaken conclusions? Are we also instantly ready to go to war with someone because they offend us? Do we end the relationship because they offended us without first checking our own actions to see if we played a part in the exchange?
Do we conclude they have an attitude against us when maybe they are looking for some acknowledgement that we had a part to play in it? Shouldn’t we look at our own actions to see if we were first in the wrong before we blame them? Jesus said to remove the ‘beam of timber’ (Greek) from our eye before trying to remove our brother’s splinter (literally, dry speck, saw dust) from his. Matthew 7:3
Jesus used the eye as the parable, meaning how we see things, how we perceive someone else’s actions. One who jumps to conclusions is as one who has a large beam in their eye obscuring their vision and ability to see the whole picture – the beam is blocking their view and skewing what they think they see.
It is true we tend to judge others by their actions while we judge ourselves by our motives. What if we looked first at how our actions contributed to the misunderstanding? What if we waited until we could hear or see a motive before jumping to offense? Don’t assume the worst, and check your heart first.
Examine your heart. That altar you take offense at may be another person’s statement of faith.
Gather more information, don’t assume the worse just yet…and look for the Father’s provision in each situation. In this way we learn patience and love, and righteousness.
New subject next week, until then, blessings,