Nehemiah was used to facing criticism and taunting. His task to rebuild the walls and the city was great, but it was not popular with everyone. From the start, he and the Jews stared objections in the face and kept working, kept building (cf. Neh. 4:6)
Imagine when the detractors—foreigners from Samara and Arabia—play a new tune that sounds like peace? “Come, let us meet together,” they said (Neh. 6:2). What would you have done as the leader of this amazing effort of rebuilding? How would you have responded to the possible ‘repentance’ of your enemies?
Nehemiah exercised godly wisdom and knew they were still out to destroy the mission. He knew they wanted to ambush him. So he declines. Notice the brilliant answer,
“I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3).
He could have been wrong about their evil plan to kill him; but Nehemiah asserts that even if they were truly offering peace, it wasn’t as important as the great work he and the people were doing on the wall. Nehemiah faced an important decision. But it was one he had already determined by priority.
Doing the Lord’s work will always invite detractors and doubters. A growing and thriving church faces more criticism than a stagnant one. Faithful families are questioned at every decision, as people look for the smallest inconsistency. If your focus is upon what’s right, people will always hurl distractions toward you.
And if you’re in the people-pleasing business, you’ll listen.
You’ll want to gain friends. You’ll want to scratch their backs so they’ll keep scratching yours. You never know when you’ll need their money, influence, or connections. Unfortunately, many people, homes, and churches make important decisions based on the happiness of the certain people. Unfortunately, many come down off their walls of purpose to answer the soothing sounds of pleasing everyone.
But God’s people, God’s homes, and God’s churches make decisions from unchanging principles in his word. They know that God and his people have had detractors from the beginning. They know that God loves every person, but has never violated his perfect character to please or silence his critics. They know they’ve been given a critical mission. They know they can’t come down.
Let’s commit to “staying on the wall” together. Our children, the church, and the Lord’s work are too important to “come down” to engage in the insignificant.