"Then I [Nehemiah] sent to [Sanballat] saying, 'No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.' For they all wanted to frighten us thinking,'Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.' But now, O God, strengthen my hands." - Nehemiah 6:8-9
As Nehemiah and the Jews continue to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in 445 bc, they come under severe pressure from the leaders of the surrounding nations to stop. These leaders use every trick they can think of to stop Nehemiah--discouragement, ridicule, trickery, deception, smear tactics, slander, treachery, and even attempted assassination. Nehemiah doesn't give in. He is wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove (Matthew 10:16) as he continues the work. Largely because of his focus and tenacity as a leader, the wall is rebuilt in only 52 days (Nehemiah 6:15), an amazing accomplishment that he attributes to the Lord's help (Nehemiah 6:16).
Here's some life lessons for us: (1) our adversaries will attempt to distract us from our mission through very vicious, underhanded, dishonest tactics; and (2) the most effective way of dealing with this type of opposition is to quickly dismiss it through speaking the truth (Nehemiah 6:8), refusing to take the bait that is offered (Nehemiah 6:3), refusing to parley with the enemy, and continuing diligently with the project. Nehemiah's strategy basically is to ignore his opponents, refuse to meet with them, and stay focused on the mission. This is a good example for us!
Father, it is so easy for us to be discouraged and tricked by our adversaries so that we give up on the projects you have for us. Help us to take this story of Nehemiah to heart. May you guide us toward the projects you want us to complete. Once we know what projects you want us to do, may we diligently drive towards completing those projects without getting sidetracked by opponents and their underhanded tactics. For example, at our church, we need to get some administrative projects completed so that we are set up to focus on our primary mission of making disciples of Jesus. These things, like our health and safety plan, are a real headache, but they must be done. So Lord, give us the tenacity of Nehemiah to finish our health and safety plan. It is the wall we need built now in our church's life. In Jesus' name, amen.
- Jeff Coleman