Monday, December 13, 2010

Bad advice... ignored!

"Then I sent to him, saying, 'No such things as you say have been done; you are inventing them out of your mind" - for they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, 'Their hands will drop from work, and it will not be done.'  But now, O God, strengthen my hands."
(Nehemiah 6:6-8)

Nehemiah is coordinating the Jerusalem wall rebuilding project, and it's going great!  Word spreads.  People outside Israel get worried.  Some send a deceitful letter asking to meet somewhere.  Nehemiah sees through it and politely declines.  Three more times they asked to meet with him.  Three more times he refuses.  Then they send a letter saying they're about to report to the king of Babylon Nehemiah's plan to rebel from his rule, and appoint himself king!  But they'd be open to "discuss the matter" before alerting the King.  Nehemiah knew it was another ploy to deceive.  He again declines.  Finally, when visiting a "prophet" in Israel, he's told that his life is in grave danger.  He was told to flee to the inner sanctuary in the Temple for protection.  He did not.  He knew that was the wrong thing to do, no matter how serious things were (only priests were allowed to go into the inner sanctuary in the Temple!).  It was another attempt to get to Nehemiah.  Through it all, Nehemiah asked for God's strength.

Talk about opposition.  Nehemiah did a great job of staying focused on his God-given task without being discouraged or side tracked.  He was polite but firm.  He was wise.  We can learn from his example - especially those of us in positions of leadership.  Sometimes there's a fine line between being open to constructive criticism, and being easily manipulated.  Beware of bad advice couched in "helpful" advice.  Through it all, God can be the anchor for us to hold on to.  We need to ask for God's wisdom & discernment...

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