“Now the men of Ephraim said to him, “Why have you done this to us by not calling us when you went to fight with the Midianites?” And they reprimanded him sharply. So he said to them, “What have I done now in comparison with you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? God has delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. And what was I able to do in comparison with you?” Then their anger toward him subsided when he said that.” Judges 8:1-3 NKJV
Gideon just had a resounding victory over the Midianites. As part of the “mopping up” operation, he sent messengers to Ephraim asking them to pursue the fleeing Midianites and redeem their land.The Ephraimites did so and even captured the two princes of Midian. But instead of thanking Gideon for involving them in this matter, the men of Ephraim accused Gideon of not involving them in the battle. It appeared that they wanted to be part of Gideon’s success and were unhappy that they were not “part of his plan”. They were so angry that they “reprimanded” Gideon.
How did Gideon react to this? He did not retaliate. He did not argue with them. He regarded the men of Ephraim more highly than himself. He told them that they have done far better than him. They had captured the princes of Midian. And Gideon’s achievement was pale in comparison to that. And with such a response, the anger of the men of Ephraim subsided.
What did Gideon just do? He simply applied the Apostle Paul’s teaching from Rom 12:3 – “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”
Gideon had every reason to believe that he did well. With just 300 men, he disbanded the armies of Midian. But he knew that this victory was a work of God. And he regarded his own achievement as nothing. And it was with such lowliness of heart that he served. And it was with such behaviour that he brought peace amongst the Israelites. Let us adopt his approach in handling conflicts that we encounter every day.