Monday, August 13, 2018

Wall-Trampling Foxes and Mocking Insults

When Nehemiah and the people of Jerusalem were rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem and it became apparent that the work was progressing, people who had a vested interest in Jerusalem's disgrace went on the attack. A few of these people, Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshum, began the assault with a series of insults and prolonged mockery. At one point, they even proclaimed, "That stone wall would collapse if even a fox walked along the top of it!" (Nehemiah 4:3, NLT). They ridiculed those building the wall, trying to discourage them and make them think that their work was useless. But instead of recording a response to the taunts and mocking, the passage breaks into spontaneous prayer, "Hear us, our God, for we are being mocked. May their scoffing fall back on their own heads, and may they themselves become captives in a foreign land! Do not ignore their guilt. Do not blot out their sins, for they have provoked you to anger here in front of the builders" (Nehemiah 4:4-5, NLT).  Then the passage tells us how the completed half the wall.

One of the reasons that the people were able to work as quickly as they did, in spite of the ridicule and mockery they endured was that they chose not to worry about things they couldn't control, like people running their mouths. They turned it over to God and then got back to work. We can't control what other people are going to say or how they are going to behave. We can't change another person's attitude or whether they like us or not. But we can choose not to let those things dictate our own actions.  Nehemiah and the people rebuilding the wall chose to let people say what they were going to say and focused on the task at hand. We could learn a lot from that.

How often do we hear or read some ridiculous thing someone has said and feel the need to respond, even though it distracts us from more important things? How often do we feel the need to prove ourselves to mockers who are only interested in achieving their own agenda and not at all interested in learning to the truth or getting to know us? With mockers, there is nothing we will ever be able to say to change their opinion of us or even their words about us. But we can choose not to let their words dictate our behavior.

Don't let people distract you from what's important with meaningless taunts. Focus on the task at hand. You'll accomplish a whole lot more that way. 

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