Years ago, I sat in a college classroom listening to a successful scholar share her wisdom on what my focus should be as an educator. Her words were passionate and well spoken, but the foundation of her argument was far from what the Bible said. She failed to recognize that the greatest problem we face is our own sin and brokenness. We desperately need a Savior. On our own, we cannot rescue ourselves. We have to receive the truth of God’s Word and turn from our own way of thinking. True success and security are only found as we obey God’s Word and let His wisdom guide our thinking.
The world wants us to do what seems safe and easy. But our comfort and security do not determine what is holy and right. When we follow the wisdom of this world, we never please God or find peace. If we treasure our safety more than we fear God, we will not save ourselves.
Nehemiah treasured God’s Word. He immersed himself in regularly reading the Scriptures. He diligently studied its teachings to understand God’s wisdom. He meditated on its truths until the Word was impressed on his heart, and those convictions transformed how He viewed the world and discerned what was right and wrong. As a leader, every decision he made was examined in light of God’s unchanging principles.
When we receive counsel from the world, we must always examine how any argument adheres to the truth in God’s Word just as Nehemiah did here:
First, we must consider the source of the information. Shemaiah posed himself as a prophet, but the foundation of his argument was fear. He was confined in his home, and his isolation provided a limited view of reality. Rather than speaking truth, he based his reasoning on wild conjectures of what could possibly happen.
Second, Nehemiah asked the right questions and exercised godly discernment. On the surface, what Shemaiah was proposing sounded like a reasonable way to protect his life from enemies. But Nehemiah realized this course of action would be “running away” from God’s protection by disobeying His Word. Anyone who was not a priest was prohibited from entering the sanctuary.
Finally, instead of arguing with his adversary or defending himself, Nehemiah turned to prayer. Repeatedly throughout the rebuilding project, this humble leader acknowledged his absolute dependance on God. He asked God to not only “remember” him and give him success, but to also “remember” his enemies and rise up to his defense. Nehemiah was a man who understood that he must both work with his hands and fight on his knees in prayer.
As we fight our own battles and struggle to make decisions, the best way to prepare is to seek God with all our hearts and to ask Him to help us not wander from His commands. When we study God’s Word and let it permeate our thinking and our values, the Lord will give us a storehouse of wisdom to help us stay away from sinful ways and move forward with success.
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