Do you remember back before the Israelites began to conquer the Promised Land that the tribes of Gad and Ruben and ½ the tribe of Manasseh wanted land on the East of the Jordan? Do you remember that they promised to come help their brethren conquer the land before returning home? Well, they kept the promise they made! After the land was divided, Joshua thanked them and told them they could now return home. It had been many years, but they kept their promise to stay.
Unfortunately on their way home there was a misunderstanding. As they went home they built a replica of the altar of God by the Jordan River. When the tribes to the west heard about this they assumed they were going to break the worship laws by using a second altar. They knew that they could not allow anyone to displease God so they got ready to destroy the eastern tribes. But first they sent Phinehas (son of a priest) and a group of elders to ask what was going on. The eastern tribal leaders explained that they did not plan to use the altar. They had built the altar to remind both sides that they were all part of Israel. This was just meant to be a symbol of unity, not something to break the worship laws. (Sacrifices were only to be made on the official altar in the tabernacle.) Phinehas and the elders were satisfied and returned home in peace.
Now you may be saying, “My, they really overreacted!” However the response of the western tribes was good. First, because they were not going to allow any of the people to do something to displease God and second, because they did ask questions before acting. The actions of the eastern tribes were good as well. First, because they took the time to create something to help them be united and second, because rather than just getting mad that the others misunderstood, they calmly explained the truth.
We can learn a lot about how to handle disagreements from this situation. We will always have times where we misunderstand each other’s behavior, but we need to calmly talk about it rather than just acting first. We often find that both sides misunderstood rather than intentionally hurt one another. Patient communication is the best way to settle a conflict.
Create a conflict scenario (or go over a recent conflict) and model with your children how to calmly talk it through rather than argue about it!