Read Joshua 22:1-34
As someone who loves the art of communication, I am often quite surprised by how much I apologize for miscommunicating. Honestly, it must happen on a weekly basis! You are almost guaranteed to hear me saying, “I’m sorry I didn’t mean it that way!” or “Oh shucks, that’s not what I meant to say!” or my personal favorite, “I think I created a misunderstanding here.” – aka- I really goofed this one up.
I am reminded of just last week when I was talking with a friend about potentially grabbing lunch later in the week, and then him texting me on Friday, asking where I was. Well… I was about three hours away at a conference! Therefore, the words I used in the moment had indicated something to him that I really did not intend to communicate.
After looking at our reading today, you can see miscommunication is not something new to the world. Even if you feel like you are the only one on earth who miscommunicates, rest assured, you are not. People have struggled with communication since the beginning of creation (lest we forget Adam and Eve?).
Today’s story is one big pile of miscommunication and misinterpretation. The heads of the clans of Israel were quick to judge the work of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh. Without even asking the group what their intentions were, they quickly jumped down their throats, rebuking them for idolizing false gods. Whereas, on the other hand, Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh might not have done the best job communicating to the heads of Israel what their true intentions were, leaving room for speculation and doubt.
I wonder if you take a look inside today, which of these two groups are you more like? Are you like the heads of the clans of Israel who were quick to judge without first trying to understand? Or are you more like Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh who did not communicate their intentions and were possibly vague in their descriptions?
The fact of the matter is miscommunication happens all around us, and, because of our human nature, it is bound to happen even this holiday season. However, recognizing where our flaws might be enables us to minimize the impact of communicative transgressions, and, in many ways, helps us love people better. Your words matter and so do the intentions of your conversation. What better time to be thinking about how we communicate than right before the holidays! Spend some time in prayer this morning asking the Lord to help guide you to be a more loving communicator.