Summary: We can be easily defeated by words or ridicule. Pray and focus on what God has called us to do. Overcome fatigue, frustrations and fears by asking God for help, getting reinforcements and remembering the great and awesome God.
What we learn last week:
• God uses anyone who is willing to offer themselves to serve. He looks for availability, not capability.
• So you and I have a place in God’s church, and being a member of this Body, our contribution is valuable and vital.
• Since we are different (and we need to be different), we don’t compete and compare, we simply COOPERATE with one another. The more we can do that, the more we can accomplish.
• No man can do everything. All men can do something. And God is counting on you.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
What are you going to do when others ridicule your faith, laugh at you or come against you?
Read Nehemiah 4:1-23
In Nehemiah 4, almost everything goes wrong all at once.
• In Chapter 1, we looked at how Nehemiah prayed.
• In Chapter 2, we saw how God moved the King and provided the resources.
• Last week, we saw the unity and the dedication of the people at the walls.
We saw the opposition to the rebuilding surfacing, and growing in intensity.
• It started with ridicule. This is easiest way to oppose something you do not like. You belittle the work or the people doing it.
• Shakespeare called this “paper bullets of the brain”. They are just words (paper bullets) but unfortunately they are effective.
We know they are effective because we have all tasted it.
• No one is immune from this – we remember when people laugh at us, or make fun of us, just one wrong word or one hurtful comment and we can have sleepless nights.
• We can be defeated very easily by words.
• James says the tongue is just a small part of the body, but it has great impact – one wrong word, a small spark can set a great forest on fire (James 3:4-6).
“What are these feeble Jews doing?” How could anyone as weak as they were hope to rebuild the city’s walls?
• The wall had been built by soldiers and trained workers, more numerous and stronger than they are, but now… Just look at them, even perfume-makers and goldsmiths have to come out.
• “Will they offer sacrifices?” – are they going to pray to their God and ask for help again? Are you sure your God can help you?
• Tobiah’s mockery was more graphic: “What they are building – if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!” (v.3)
What do you do when people laughs at you?
• Chances are, you will take it to heart. You keep thinking about it. You allow the words to replay itself in your mind, again and again. You argue back, you want to retaliate.
• Surprisingly, Nehemiah did not even respond to them, nor commented on what they say. His immediate response (in verse 4) was in fact, a prayer to God.
• He did not even talk to men; he spoke to God and asked Him to judge them. Let the perfect Judge pass the sentence on them.
• Nehemiah kind-of ignore their words. He did not bottle up his feelings or think about it too much. He simply unloaded his hurts to God.
And then he went right on with the work.
• Since he has already given them to God and need not be too concerned, he went back to his routine. That’s the wisest thing to do.
• Verse 6 says “the people worked with all their heart” – in order words, they chose to FOCUS on what they need to do, and ignore all the scorn and ridicule.
We cannot stop ridicule. There will be people who will laugh at us, or make fun even of our faith, or over the smallest of things because of their ill-intent or jealousy.
• But we can CHOOSE to not let these damning words discourage or hurt us. We can choose to PRAY and leave them to God.
• The things people say may hurt us, but they can never harm us, unless we let them get into our system and poison us.”
• Don’t press the replay button and keep replaying those words in our mind. You are not doing yourself any good.
Pray and let go of them. Don’t be distracted by them. When people laugh at us, laugh it off.
• Get back to your routine and FOCUS on what God has told you to do. Be concerned about God’s disapproval, and not men’s disapproval.
• You cannot please everybody. Even Jesus, good and perfect, faced wrongly and unjustified accusations and ridicule.
Rev Albert Ting in his sermon last month reminded me of this story about an old man and his grandson who have just bought a donkey.