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"And when they came to the region of the Jordan which is in the land of Canaan, the children of Rueben the children of Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan a great impressive altar.... Thus says the whole congregation of the LORD: 'What treachery is this that you have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the LORD, in that you have built for yourselves an altar, that you might rebel this day against the LORD? (Joshua 22:10,16)

Two sisters in a congregation had "heard" things about each other that they immediately began to spread to others. Word got back to both of them concerning what the other was doing, and the fight was on. This went on for years until finally the local preacher exposed the account of the altar of witness in the record of Joshua. Both women embraced immediately after the sermon, and began to make things right with all those infected by their gossip.

Rumors and gossip are like the flea-bites in Europe during the spread of black plague. They are tiny and almost indiscernible, but the result is certain death. Israel had begun to divide the land. Rueben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh had asked for the land east of the Jordan. When they arrived, they erected an altar. Immediately, those west of the Jordan having "heard" what they did (verse 11), began to spread the rumor that those tribes worshipped an idol. Their immediate response was to form an army to prepare for war with their own brethren. Fortunately, they decided to first send an envoy of elders and Phinehas the high priest to meet with these brethren. They came with heavy accusations only to discover that these brethren built this altar to God just to remind those west of Jordan that they were brethren. With the vice of rumor and gossip deeply imbedded in the hearts of those west of Jordan, those east of the river had a reason to build this altar.

During Winston Churchill's last year in office he attended an official function. Sitting behind him a couple of rows were two men who were whispering that they had heard that Churchill was now senile. When the event ended, Churchill turned to the men and said, "Some have heard that I am also deaf." Like Israel, we cannot afford the cost of rumors and gossip in the church. We should test what we say to others by its truthfulness and facts. In this way, we can be sure of what we say, and confident it is intended to help others and not destroy them. [ The End ]


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