Flattery will get you! – Could you be drawn away from God’s best in your life by flattery or some other temptation? What can we learn from Nehemiah about protecting our testimonies, our jobs, and our ministries?
Nehemiah 6 & 7
Flattery will get you!
Flattery & Enticing Distractions
Chapter 6 reminds me so much of what goes on in politics and the media today.
¹ Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), 2 that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm.
3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (6.1-3).
As soon as someone starts to do something significant for God, influential people want to meet with him or her and, often, interview them for TV or some other media. Sadly, many have learned the hard way that most people in the media don’t really want to rejoice with them because they’re doing something worthwhile. In fact, most have learned that what they say and do gets twisted and misreported. And all it does is serve as a distraction from what’s really important.
When flattery or the enticement of national coverage or rubbing elbows with dignitaries doesn’t work, the enemy will often attack from within—sometimes using people close to that person. How many times have we read the phrase “unnamed sources say …”
Another way the enemy attempts to bring down servants of God is by taking advantage of our own sinful desires, often through an immoral sexual encounter.
Those encounters don’t always start with something obviously sexual or immoral. Often they happen between two co-workers or even people who work together in ministry.
It may seem innocent, at first, things like texting and compliments, but will often turn to flirting and spending more and more time together.
I thought it was interesting that one of the people mentioned in verse 14 was a woman, the prophetess Noahdiah! Even though nothing sexual is mentioned, what if Nehemiah had listened to her and began to develop a relationship with her? How many times has someone said, “We’re just friends” only to fall into temptation as the “friendship” develops? We need to be so careful of both the perception of something inappropriate and the temptations that we all face.
But Nehemiah didn’t fall for any of these ploys. He kept his focus on God’s purposes and trusted God for the results.
Today’s Other Readings:
Who can be compared to the Lord?
Verse 6, “For who in the heavens can be compared to the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the LORD?”
The psalmist praises the Lord as being unparalleled in all the universe!
Truth and Lies
A person who lies will eventually be destroyed by his own lies, but a person who only speaks what he knows to be true will be consistent. We have probably all known people who lie endlessly. Eventually they lose all credibility. But people who speak truth consistently come to be trusted and depended upon.
Because Paul had appealed to Caesar concerning his guilt or innocence in the charges brought against him in Jerusalem and after being held in Caesarea for over two years, Paul is being transferred by ship to Rome.
The conditions for travel are not good. It’s late in the year and they will sail through an area notorious for storms and shipwrecks. When the weather turns bad, Paul advises them to spend the winter in a place called Fair Havens, but those in charge take the advice of the ship’s crew instead.
13 When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete. 14 But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon. 15 So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive. 16 And running under the shelter of an island called Clauda, we secured the skiff with difficulty. 17 When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands, they struck sail and so were driven. 18 And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship. 19 On the third day we threw the ship’s tackle overboard with our own hands. 20 Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.
But God’s plan for Paul to go to Rome would not be thwarted, even by the bad decisions of those in charge.
21 … then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. 22 And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, 24 saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’“
God’s plans and purposes for us are just as sure. Our responsibility is to keep our eyes on Him, be obedient to the best of our ability with God’s help, seek to bring Him glory in the midst of every circumstance, and trust Him for the results.
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