You’re on top of the world! Doing BIG things for God. You can feel his hand on what you’re doing, and then it happens. Criticism comes knocking at your door and punches the air from your lungs. Suddenly, as if the magic bubble has been burst; the rose colored glasses you were wearing are now broken and thrown away. It all seems small, insignificant, useless. A drop in the ocean. All because of criticism.
Criticism in Nehemiah’s Life
Nehemiah got to Jerusalem ready to do big things, the people were on fire! They were going to do great things, rebuild the walls. And then the big Kahunas around them, surrounding them found out and didn’t like it.
So they criticized their work. Told them it was a joke, pathetic and impossible. Who do you think you are they shouted. If a fox jumped on it, it would crumble, they laughed. What do you think Nehemiah did? Throw his hands in the air shouting “you know what? You’re right. It’s hot, it’s too hard, we’re tired,” No, he fell on his knees before God (V.4-5) and poured out his heart to God. Then he got up, brushed himself off and went back to work.
When that didn’t work they tried intimidation. “We’re going to come up and we’re going to kill you, and you know what? You won’t even see us coming!” The intimidation worked, the people got worried, and the work stopped as they worried and fretted. They’re on all sides! We don’t have a chance! There are too many of them! The wall is only half what it should be. What are we going to do?
Nehemiah looked over the walls and then armed the workers placing them to work on the wall near their homes. Then he turned to the quivering people begging him for answers and reminded them that they serve an awesome God, and the work continued.
“Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” Nehemiah 4:14 ESV
Then the internal bickering started, we’re hungry! They’re growing rich on us! We can’t afford to feed our families.
At the meeting, I said to them, “We are doing all we can to redeem our Jewish relatives who have had to sell themselves to pagan foreigners, but you are selling them back into slavery again. How often must we redeem them?” And they had nothing to say in their defense. Nehemiah 5:8 NIV
Then Nehemiah’s enemies showed up again, they’d finished the walls but the gates weren’t up yet. So they took a little more roundabout way of attacking him this time. So maybe we were wrong, why don’t you come down and meet us and we’ll talk about it.
But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer. Nehemiah 6:3-4 NIV
They held out a supposed hand, come on why don’t you join us. So we were wrong the walls are up. Nehemiah knew they were scheming so instead of saying, Oh, well you finally noticed. You’re going to let me sit with you guys on at the big kid table, Oh, well fine! He looked at them and said sorry, I’m doing a great work (you know that one that you said was small, unimportant and impossible. Yeah, that one). Why should I stop to come down to meet you? Oh, come on! Are you supposed to forgive and forget right? Just come meet us.
When this didn’t work they decided to blacken his name, Oh well there’s a rumor going around that you guys are just building the wall so you can rebel and become king, we’d hate for these reports to get back to the king. So come and meet us.
But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9 (NIV)
When this didn’t work they sent people to intimidate Nehemiah. To prophesy against him, and make him fear for his life. To make him stumble, and give them something to bring him down with. But the next verse is the best…
So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. Nehemiah 6:15 KJV
Despite all the lies, the intimidation tactics, the threats, the criticism The. Wall. Was. Completed. That project that was impossible? Was finished. Those people who had no right to try something so big did it. The. Wall. Was. Completed.
When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. Nehemiah 6:16 (NIV)
They realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. How big is that? Those same people who mocked said, “Whoa! God. Is. With. Them.”
Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right. ~ Abraham Lincoln
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25 (NIV)
Criticism hurts- especially when it comes from those who you thought would support you. But when you are chasing the dream God put in your heart. When you are blooming where he planted you it doesn’t matter what the world says. It doesn’t matter what they think- keep your eyes on Him and keep building. You can only fear one, to follow one. God or man. I choose God, what about you?
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by
permission. All rights reserved
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Before You Go, Check Out These Other Articles
- It Didn’t Go My Way
- Struck Down But Not Destroyed
- Seek Me
- You Are Mine
- Taking The Training Wheels Off Your Faith
- Dare To Dream His Dreams
- He Is Friendship
- He Is Our Hope
- Let Him Plant The Flowers
- Sometimes God Uses A Sledgehammer
- This is War
- Waiting To Live
- Waiting To Exhale
- Don’t Stop Building – Working Through Criticism
- Don’t Stop Praying
- When The World Says To Quit
- Jumping To Conclusions
- Life is Hard
- Charades, When the World Says You’re Faking
- Don’t Postpone Joy
- Bear One Another’s Burdens