Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 24, 1971

What We Hear

David Smitherman

In Joshua 22 we have recorded a very sad occurrence and one that is often repeated today. If you will recall shortly before the death of Moses, two and one-half of the twelve tribes came to Moses and requested their inheritance on the East of Jordan. The request was granted on the condition that they would cross Jordan and help their brethren drive out the inhabitants and help settle the land. This they did and now Joshua calls them to him, blesses them and sends them to their homes. When they reached Jordan they stopped and built a great altar "And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up to war against them." vs. 12. Phineas along with several others were sent to the two and a half tribes and according to the context did not immediately give their brethren a chance to explain their action. Instead they began to accuse them and "get them told" on the basis of-what they had heard. If you will read vs. 21-29 you will see that the building of the altar was completely justifiable — no wrong was done. However, the conclusions jumped to and the reproofs given were inexcusable. How sad that the ten and a half tribes, going only on what they had heard, would become angry with their brethren who a short time before had helped them to secure the promised land.

As suggested, this is often repeated today. A report gets out about a certain congregation ("have you heard what has happened at the such and such church?"). Or, an evil report is heard about a brother or sister in Christ ("did you hear what he or she did?"). Immediately, simply on the basis of what we've heard, an opinion is formed and our mind is set. Without stopping to find out (if we have any business in the first place doing any finding out) the other side (there is nearly always two sides, you know) we have an opinion formed on the situation and we are ready to "do battle with" or "really chew out" the ones we have heard about. Brethren, family and friends may be involved. Friendships and relationships of long years standing may be alienated or a strain put on them. We cut ourselves off from those we've fought battles with in the army of Christ and it all happened over something we heard.

Brethren, love "believeth all things" (believes the very best about a situation or person until facts are presented which force us to think otherwise.) Love "hopeth all things" (hopes that the thing heard is not as bad as it is reported to be). May we have the faith to "take heed unto what we hear" and apply the principles mentioned above. Much of our personal difference, hard feelings and suspicions will then cease.