Ever know someone with “a chip on their shoulder”? One story has that phrase originating from the idea of two boys picking a fight with each other, the one putting a wood chip on his shoulder and daring the other to knock the chip off, thus initiating the knock-down-drag-out.
The problem with chips on shoulders is that they tend to fall off on their own, starting fights when none were intended. For example:
“Then the people of Ephraim asked Gideon, ‘Why have you treated us this way? Why didn’t you send for us when you first went out to fight the Midianites?’ And they argued heatedly with Gideon.”
Poor guy. He was simply trying to save the nation of Israel. Try and do a good deed and get dissed for it.
Several generations and a few leaders down the road…
“Then the people of Ephraim mobilized an army and crossed over the Jordan River to Zaphon. They sent this message to Jephthah: ‘Why didn’t you call for us to help you fight against the Ammonites? We are going to burn down your house with you in it!’”
Okay, now once is an isolated incident, but twice (and twice, recorded in the Bible, mind you) is a bit of trend. What gives?
Actually, what we have here is not simply a failure to communicate. It looks more like offense borne of pride, pure and simple. In the first argument, Gideon was able to stand them down. The upshot of the second encounter, however, is a bloody mess, literally.
You can bet the left-over Ammonites were celebrating.
Which is generally the outcome of offense. Wasted time, wasted talent, wasted emotions, wasted lives. Spiritual blood-letting. And our enemy loves it.
Of course, we have our sophisticated, modern, spiritually justified forms of this today:
Why didn’t I get asked to be on the worship team?
Why didn’t I get picked to lead the project?
Why isn’t my contribution recognized?
Why isn’t my child getting the lead role?
It all comes down to…me.
I couldn’t find anymore references to the people of Ephraim getting ticked off for some sense of wounded pride about being left out of the rumble. Maybe they learned a lesson the hard way; I hope they did.
I hope we, as the church (which means each of us individually) can learn it much easier.
Or else soon all we’ll be left holding are our own offenses…and a bag of wood chips.
Judges 8:1;12:1 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.