Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How to Face Opposition Part 1: Dealing With Insults

Leonidas faced some crazy opposition in 300

My Sermon on Knowing the Will of God that leads up to this blogpost.

It is a fact of life that we run into opposition. Seemingly no matter the size of the project there will be people that argue, disagree, or even sabotage what we're doing. Therefore if we know it's coming, we must prepare. Let's look back about 2500 years to see how Nehemiah stood against opposition.

You can read the remarkable story of Nehemiah here
Quick background on Nehemiah:
  • Cup Barer to the most powerful man in the world, King Artaxerxes.
  • One day while doing his courtly duties the king noticed how sad Nehemiah was.
  • The King asked how he could fix Nehemiah's sadness.
  • Nehemiah said that if he could go rebuild the walls of his home town Jerusalem he'll feel better.
  • The Persian King makes the Jewish Nehemiah governor of Jerusalem
  • Nehemiah travels 1000 miles to build a 12 mile of walls around Jerusalem.
  • During the 52 days it took the Israelites to rebuild their city's walls they faced much opposition.
  • Eventually the walls were built!
This is the lowest form of criticism. When people are just shouting insults at you and your cause take this as encouragement. Typically that means they can't think of any real way to oppose you. Those people are stooping to that level because they want to devalue your work.
When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall he exploded in anger, vilifying the Jews. In the company of his Samaritan cronies and military he let loose: "What are these miserable Jews doing? Do they think they can get everything back to normal overnight? Make building stones out of make-believe?" Nehemiah 4:1-2
Nehemiah faced insult from his critics. Sanballat and Tobiah didn't want the wall built because that would stabilize the region and hurt their bottum lines. So the insults flew. They figured the best way to get to the Jews was to discourage them. If they could hurt them mentally those makeshift masons wouldn't even come out of their homes to build the wall.

First Nehemiah prayed against them. He asked God to shut them up, "Oh listen to us, dear God. We're so despised: Boomerang their ridicule on their heads..." Nehemiah was a man of prayer.

When opposition wants to discourage us out of work we need to go to God in prayer. God is a God of action, and if we're working on His side He'll fight for us. If you think Tebow time is exciting-- God time is like One-thousand times more so.

One of my favorite scenes from 300 where insults are hurled and ignored.

Second Nehemiah didn't stop for a second to listen to Sanballat and Tobiah's insults. He kept everyone working. "We kept at it, repairing and rebuilding the wall. The whole wall was soon joined together..." Nehemiah ignored them!

I remember when my mom would say to just ignore when people call you names. If you want to throw the insult back at your opposers, don't yell back at them, just keep working. A finished project is the best and most effective way to discourage your opposition. Proverbs 26:4 is always right, Don't respond to the stupidity of a fool; you'll only look foolish yourself. As they say, actions speak louder than words. The best course of action is to shut your mouth and get to work.

As Thomas Carlyle said, "Ridicule and insult are the language of the Devil." When people start throwing insults at you be encouraged that you're probably on the right track. And Satan HATES that.

Stay tuned later this week for Part 2: When the Opposition Organizes and Fights