Clean-up Work Beneath Your Dignity?


Are you familiar with the expression “chip on his shoulder”? It usually refers to a person who is easily offended, quick to anger and always ready to fight. I am preparing a series of sermons on: What Can We Learn From The 12 Tribes Of Israel? One of those tribes definitely walked around with a huge chip on their shoulder: EPHRAIM, one of Joseph’s sons.

To illustrate this biblical truth, we will simply turn to Judges 6-8 and 11-12.

In the days of Gideon, the Midianites were the oppressors who needed to be put in their place. God selected Gideon to head up the project, who called troops together from Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali to handle the enemies. (6:35) These tribes were the ones closest to where the fighting began. This is the battle where God made Gideon whittle his troops down from 32,000 to 300, so that everyone would know that the victory belonged to the LORD. The battle plan from the LORD put the Midianites on the run to the south. Because 300 soldiers couldn’t hunt down all the enemies, Gideon immediately re-called troops from Naphtali, Asher and Manasseh to purse them.

Since the Midianites were running south, Gideon also called one of the more southern tribes, the Ephraimites, to cut them off by seizing control of the Jordan River. They did so and the battle was won and the enemy defeated. So everybody was happy, right? NOT! The “chip on my shoulder” Ephraimites were huffing and puffing and pouting like a 2 year old.

Their tantrum is recorded in 8:1-3. “Then the men of Ephraim said to him, ‘What is this that you have done to us, not to call us when you went to fight against Midian?’ And they accused him fiercely.” They were offended and angry that, in their eyes, they were only called into the battle to help do some of the “clean-up” work. Gideon then used his smooth-talking ability to try to calm the Ephraimites down; it worked. 8:3 “Then their anger against him subsided.”

What a perfect example of a whole tribe with “a chip on their shoulder”; easily offended, quick to anger, always ready to fight. 

A short time later, Judges 11-12, a similar situation showed up; this time with a different judge, Jephthah, and different enemies, the Amorites and the Ammonites. The elders of Gilead (Gad) chose Jephthah to be their leader to free them from the oppression of the Amorites and the Ammonites. Jephthah led the forces of Gilead to victory over both enemies. So everybody was celebrating, right? NOT! In 12:1 “The men of Ephraim were called to arms, and they crossed to Zaphon and said to Jephthah, ‘Why did you cross over to fight against the Ammonites and did not call us to go with you? We will burn your house over you with fire.’ ”

That makes their angry tantrum against Gideon look like a cheap imitation. “Burn your house over you with fire?” Sounds like the same old song, second verse, huh.

Jephthah did not try smooth words, but went straight to the facts. 12:2-3 “… when I called you, you did not save me from their (Ammonites) hand. 3 And when I saw that you would not save me, I took my life in my hand and crossed over against the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me this day to fight against me?” This time the Ephraimite’s “chip on their shoulder” made them quick to fight and cost them: “Then Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought with Ephraim. And the men of Gilead struck Ephraim, … 6At that time 42,000 of the Ephraimites fell.” 42,000 dead bodies was the price tag of that chip.

Lesson: Pride is the root of every “chip on the shoulder”. If you are easily offended, quick to anger and always ready to fight, you have a chip that will one day either severely injure you and other family and friends around you or destroy you. So what can you do about that chip? Surrender to Christ and make Him your LORD. No one can surrender to Jesus and make Him LORD and still be puffed up with pride. Surrender is the opposite of pride. The moment you truly surrender, pride will die and the chip will disappear. So now it is up to you. 

Mike Sublett is a pastor at Hi-Land Christian Church, 1615 N. Banks St., Pampa, Texas 79065. Email him at


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