Summary: In this message, we’ll learn how simply building a dream team to rebuild something that’s broken isn’t enough; we must anticipate the trainwrecks that can create whining, foster a losing attitude, and derail the rebuilding project.
I’m going to state the obvious. It’s more fun to win than it is to lose. Winning puts a smile on our faces. But what does it take to win?
Quitters never win and winners never quit.
Whiners never win and winners never whine.
Turning whiners into winners
Series: Here’s hope: Rebuilding a broken world
Text: Nehemiah 4, p. 354
We’ll look at Nehemiah 3 on Wednesday. Don’t forget to take advantage of the resources at our devotional table. Hand me another brick and Nehemiah: Experiencing the good hand of God.
The walls around Nehemiah’s ancestral home, Jerusalem, were broken down, leaving the city defenseless. God called Nehemiah to leave a comfortable job, travel 1,000 miles, and rebuild the city. When he arrived, he found the people defeated, depressed, and discouraged. But last week, we learned how he built a dream team.
What’s broken around you? In recent weeks, I’ve been asking you to think about what God is calling you to rebuild. Some of us have found something – some wall that is broken. But truth be told, the wall we are seeking to rebuild is really self-serving. It’s OK to want to rebuild a broken marriage or a broken relationship. But I believe that God wants us to go beyond rebuilding something when something’s in it for me. What part of the kingdom of God are you seeking to build up?
There is joy in finding that kingdom place. This week, visit with Rachel Sanson. She’s found here wall – ministering to orphans in El Salvador. Her focus is contagious. I’m hoping to go down there this winter! Her joy is overflowing.
What’s the broken wall God is calling you to rebuild?
When you have built a dream team and joined God in rebuilding something that’s broken, you’ll run into harassment and be tempted to be discouraged. That’s what happened here. Nehemiah is full of instruction for people who have started well, but are confused and fearful and worried and discouraged.
I see three problems the people faced. We’ll look at each problem and then offer two solutions for each one.
1. When we are facing ridicule… vv.1-3
1 Now it came about that when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious and very angry and mocked the Jews.
Sanballat was an official from Samaria, an area just north of Jerusalem. He knew that if Jerusalem became a well-protected city, then its location would attract trade. That would mean that Samaria’s economic supremacy would disappear. So, he is angry about the walls being rebuilt. A strong Jerusalem would endanger the balance of power in the region, and it would also rob Sanballat and his friends of influence and wealth.
You want to be a rebuilder? You better develop some thick skin. God usually won’t allow you to rebuild a wall without opposition.
Let’s see what Sanballat did to oppose the project. Sanballat was thorough in his criticism.
He attacked their ability.
2 He spoke in the presence of his brothers and the wealthy men of Samaria and said,
"What are these feeble Jews doing?
He questioned their character.
Are they going to restore it for themselves?
He ridiculed their religion.
Can they offer sacrifices?
He challenged their commitment to finish what they started.
Can they finish in a day?
He questioned the feasibility of the project.
Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble even the burned ones?"
He slammed their competence.
3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was near him and he said,
"Even what they are building-- if a fox should jump on it, he would break their stone wall down!"
Just a note: “Tobiah the Ammonite was near him.” Critics run with critics.
Some of Sanballat’s observations were valid. It was true that the workers were not skilled builders. They were not the most committed, either. They actually walked off the job at one point. Sanballat was not completely wrong.
But critics don’t stop to think that they may be criticizing God’s project.
We waste energy and thought trying to answer questions for people who are often not really interested in answers. Without realizing it, our focus begins to shift. Instead of being vision centered, we slowly become critic centered.
Criticism strikes an emotional chord in us. That emotion must go somewhere. To reflect it back on our critics is to play their game. To bottle it up inside can result in depression or ulcers.
Know this: People without vision have problems with projects that require faith. There will always, always be opposition from those who are negative and critical.
… we will pray… vv. 4-5
Nehemiah didn’t take time to collect his thoughts. He immediately passed along everything he was thinking and feeling directly to the only One who could do anything about it. He didn’t sugarcoat it. He didn’t spiritualize it. He just unloaded.