“Then, when the men of the city rose early in the morning and behold, the altar to Ba’al was torn down and the Asherah, which was beside it, was cut down! Even the second bull was offered up on the altar that had been built! And one man said to his friend, “What is this thing that has been done?” And they sought out and they worked it out, saying, “Gideon, the son of Joash as done this thing!”
Sherlock Holmes would not have been impressed. There was not much deducing to be done in this particular investigation. Who would have had access to Joash’s bulls? Gideon. No fingerprints, no following foot-tracks, and no interviews were really necessary. This investigation did more to stir people up than to discover the truth. The positive element about this is that it seems that Gideon had enough of a reputation in the community as one who did not accept the status-quo that people would suspect him. May we all have such a reputation amongst our peers!
One thing that I have learned over the years is that often people are more interested in getting their way or achieving their ends than seeking the truth. Here, in Gideon’s case, the whole village is being stirred up by these ornery men. Could they not have gone discretely to seek out what happened? Sure, that would have been both the honorable and the Biblical thing to do. But they did not, they aroused the people of the community to the extent of stirring up a mob to go after Gideon.
Gossip in the church achieves the same end. What is worse, in today’s “sound-byte” society, people aren’t much interested in dialogue and the discovery of the truth. They just want their way. How many reputations have been ruined by people who have not bothered following Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 18:15-20? How many churches have split because someone gets an idea in their head, not understanding what has been done, and maliciously gossips and slanders those in leadership? How often people, hearing only half of a conversation, jump to terribly wrong conclusions that cause nothing but grief for the whole church body. Indeed, we are sinners, but in the church, ought we not strive to follow the model of Christ? Ought we not use discretion? Ought we not seek to be reconciled to our brothers and sisters? Ought we not govern our tongues with faith and wisdom? Gideon’s idolatrous peers do not.