I was reading earlier the last part of the account of the Israelites taking and settling in the promised land. What I noticed and reflected a little on was Joshua 22 and the account of the tribes that settled on the east of the Jordan river, returning home and making an altar at the river.
OK, you might think theres nothing so odd about that, but then the tribes had been told to serve God, to have one "tabernacle" or place where they sacrificed to God and yet here after a successful campaign where they all acknowledged God's power, they build another altar.
The rest of the tribes hear the rumour of this and decide to sort it straight away, after all they fully remembered what God had done to others who had not followec his laws earlier in the Exodus.
A rumour can , if it is not acted upon and grounded by asking and establishing who reported it and the truth or not of it, have a nasty habit of becoming "truth" just because its been repeated enough times that it becomes common knowledge. "Wonderful" expressions like, "there is no smoke without fire" then come into play.
I was watching a TV program the other day, "Downton Abbey", in which a lot of nasty rumours are circulated about a member of the household staff by others wanting to get him fired. The rumours and half truths that they hear and get from other people who have heard it and thus can give them weight, nearly succeed. But one person decided to follow it up and get to the bottom of the rumours, truth, lies or whatever. You will have to watch the 4 part series to understand it all but suffice to say, the truth was not at all what had been reported and only came out through seeking it.
It's a good lesson in our Christian lives to not simply take for read what we hear of others or of situations. We need always to find out the truth rather than believe even what a trusted source has told us since the rumour may well be unfounded or mistaken. Rumours can be used to destroy reputations, works and even whole Churches if we listen to them and belief them rather than getting to the truth of them.
What we see in Joshua's account is a good example of hearing a rumour, taking action to find out the facts and coming to a godly conclusion. The alter was built not to offer sacrifices but to remind the people on the West bank of the Jordan that those on the East bank were a part of them and prevent anything that might cause those on the East bank being separated, in future, from serving God as they had all so recently agreed.
I wonder how often we act on the rumour before trying to establish the facts of the situation. We hear that someone has done or said something or someone says they have heard that someone has said they ...? Next time you hear someone coming up with a rumour will you ask how they heard it, find out it there is any truth, look for the underlying truth and then act on the facts and not the rumour?