Have you ever done some genuinely good deed only to be accused of having a self-serving motivation? That is, at a minimum, annoying in the extreme! It is enough to make you ponder if it is worth the effort of attempting to serve someone else or accomplish an honorable task.
Nehemiah was faced with such a problem as he neared the completion of the wall around Jerusalem. In chapter six the old enemies appear again, first of all with a false premise …
6:1 – When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it—though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates— 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.”
But they were scheming to harm me; 3 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?” 4 Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.
Nehemiah was able to see through the pretext of this request as meaning to do harm, not to just have a nice peace-pipe conversation and reconciliation. The place they wanted him to come was about 25 miles to the northwest of Jerusalem. And there was no reason to meet with these men, as the wall was nearing completion with just the gates remaining to be completed. Clearly this was an 11th-hour attempt to stop the project by stopping the leader of the entire effort.
The deplorable trio next took on a different and more insidious approach and attack …
5 Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter 6 in which was written:
“It is reported among the nations—and Geshem says it is true—that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king 7 and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us meet together.”
Have we not just lived through such a season of similar political maneuvering? The bag of dirty tricks is old and … well, dirty … because it is old! It is the way of the world that if you can’t beat your political rival by the truth, make up a host of lies that are at least marginally believable. Throw enough mud against the wall and some of it has to stick.
The accusation was that “rumor had it” that Nehemiah was building this wall for the purpose of announcing himself as king. This would have had repercussions miles away in Persia in the palace of Artaxerxes. The unholy trio of enemies reasoned that this innuendo might frighten Nehemiah into abandoning the work to save his own neck. He answered …
8 I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”
9 They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”
But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”
Nehemiah called out the ruse, simply denying it while turning to God to be strengthened for the work. He sought out the Lord on seven distinct occasions in this book of the written record of his work and life. And there is a lesson in that for all of us.
False accusation is simply a part of life when attempting to do great things for God. We need to remember that the ultimate enemy we have is not flesh and blood, but rather it involves principalities and powers in high places in the spiritual realm. Satan and his horde of demonic helpers are against our seeking to serve God by serving others, and we can expect that lies and false accusations will come against us. It is par for the course.
We would do well also to remember the words of Paul to the Galatians …
6:8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
As we work to be #ForOurCity, we can confidently remain steadfast and pray like Nehemiah, “Lord, strengthen our hands and remember our work.”