Summary: This sermon deals with the need to communicate clearly with each other.
“Let’s Not Fall out Over This”
Have you ever made a decision, that was misunderstood or misread by someone else, and the person got upset with you. The next thing you know, there has been a falling out of some kind between you and the person. The hardest thing about having a good relationship with someone else, is to keep open and clear lines of communication. We forget that no one can really read our minds, and we mistakenly think that we can read the minds of others. Have you ever heard, “I know what you’re thinking” or “I know what she was thinking.” Do you realize you could be rich if you had such powers.
The ability to misunderstand another person has caused many of friends to fall out, many husbands and wives to argue and divorce, and many teens and parents to feel distant and alienated from each other. Well who is to blame in the situation? Well if we are truly honest, we probably both contribute to the problem in some way, though the level of blame may be very unequal.
In our Old Testament reading, Moses was leading 12 tribes of people. God had promised to give his people a wonderful section of land on the west bank side of the Jordan River. Now they were going to have to fight the people in the land to get it. Once they got the promised land on the west side, it would be divided into 12 parts. The 12 tribes would fight together until all the people in the land were defeated. However, there were a group of kingdoms on the east side of the Jordan River that insisted on attacking Moses and the 12 tribes before they got to the Jordan. So the 12 tribes went to war and defeated the kingdoms. All of a sudden as a result of winning the war, here is all this land on the east side of the river that was really good land.
The leaders of 2 tribes, Rebuen and Gad, and a leader of ½ the tribe of Manassah came up with a great idea. They said, “hey let’s ask Moses for this part of the land as our share of the land, we would get on the other side of the river. This land is perfect for us and our livestock. Not only that we can see in advance exactly what we’re going to get. Who knows what the land is going to be like on the other side of the river.” Now the Reubenites, Gadites, and ½ tribe of Manassahnites come up with a plan to make this thing work.
So they come to Moses, saying, “Look this land the Lord has taken over is good for goats and sheep and we have plenty of goats and sheep. If it’s alright to you, do us a favor and let us have this land. Do not make us cross the Jordan River.
Now if you were Moses, and they came to you with this request, what do you think you’d be thinking. Most of us would make the mistake of hearing something the other person did not say. What the 2 ½ tribes said was, let this land be given to us as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan. What the 2 ½ tribe leaders intended to say was, “we want this land as our inheritance, so don’t make us take our land on the other side of the Jordan.” What Moses heard was, “we got the land we want and don’t you try to make us leave it. We have no intention of going any further than we have already gone. Cross the Jordan without us. ”
How often have you said something, but you did not say exactly what you intended and the other person got upset with you? The other person even heard you say some things you are sure you never said.
How often have you heard somebody say something, but you added your own interpretation to it and it led to a falling out. This happens quite often in marriage. It happens with friends. It happens on the job. One of the things we can’t hear, is what attitude did the 2 ½ leaders speak in when they said, “do not make us cross the Jordan.” Was it a plea or was it a demand?
Moses took their request as a personal threat to his leadership and his authority over all the tribes.—Why are we so quick to take some things personally? How many of you know, this request is not at all about Moses or what kind of a leader he is? They haven’t even thought about attacking Moses. All they want is the land on the east side of the Jordan River.