When I was younger I loved to watch shows on Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic. I would sit in front of the TV for hours, immersed in these worlds that I had never experienced before. Out of all the shows that I watched, one guy always stood out to me — The Crocodile Hunter.
Steve Irwin, a crazy dude who would bring his wife and kids out to wrestle huge alligators, always had my attention, and if I learned one thing from him it’s that hippos are evil. They are one of the most hostile animals in the world, killing about 3,000 people a year. They regularly kill crocodiles, attack boats, and despite being four tons, they can run up to twenty miles per hour on land.
Just like the Crocodile Hunter had to deal with hippos, we do too.. human hippos. People who seem to get angry at the smallest things, or like to start arguments from nothing. You probably even have a name in your head right now of someone who is like this at work or school. These are the people that we try to avoid at the office, or that we don’t talk to at practice. These people want nothing more than to be right, and make sure that everyone else knows how they feel about *insert trendy topic here* when they post essays about it on Facebook.
The story of Gideon from the Bible shows us that we’re not alone in dealing with people like this. Gideon had just defeated his enemies, the Midianites, and all that’s left to do is some cleanup — easy work. So he asks some friends, some fellow Israelites, the Ephraimites, to help chase off his enemies. But when Gideon asks, they get frustrated…
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.
The Ephraimites care too much about their reputation to take this offer. They’re the big dogs, the starters, not the benchwarmers coming in when the team is ahead. They’re angry about nothing! They simply want the glory.
At this point, Gideon could have easily gotten up in their faces and replied with anger. He had the right to. The Ephraimites were out of line. Gideon was simply trying to do them a favor — “Hey, want to get paid to do no work?” — and they decided to get ticked. But he didn’t…
Gideon replied, “What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t even the leftover grapes of Ephraim’s harvest better than the entire crop of my little clan of Abiezer? What have I accomplished compared to that?” When the men of Ephraim heard Gideon’s answer, their anger subsided.
Gideon replies in a way we would not have expected, and because of that, they went from being these scary warriors to being nice friends. Gideon responded in a way that was humble and not angry, and it killed the hostility. Gideon models a way to respond to people that we are having a hard time dealing with. Whether this is on Facebook, Twitter, in the office, or in your home, we need to follow his model.
Just because we’re on Jesus’ team doesn’t mean we get a free pass through all of lives conflicts. Gideon was totally justified to start a fight with the Ephraimites because of the way they responded to his offer, instead he chose to bite his tongue because he knew that feeding the hungry hippos would only make it worse.