Do you ever face contemptuous people in your life? People who seem to enjoy taunting you because of your faith?
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What is the definition of contemptuous?
Merriam-Webster defines it as
manifesting, feeling, or expressing deep hatred or disapproval : feeling or showing contempt
Some synonyms for contemptuous are:
belittling, degrading, demeaning, derogatory, mocking, ridiculing
Know anyone in your life who has ever ridiculed you or mocked you because of your faith? I have! And so did Nehemiah!
Know anyone in your life who has ever ridiculed you or mocked you because of your faith?Click To Tweet
Let’s Meet Nehemiah
My pastor has been preaching a series on the book of Nehemiah. It spurred me to look a little deeper at this book that, quite honestly, I often neglect in my reading.
So let’s first meet Nehemiah.
Nehemiah was a Jew but served as cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. He went in to the King one day looking sad.
“And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid…”
Nehemiah was afraid because being sad in the presence of the King was not permitted. It was seen as a disapproval of the King or dissatisfaction with his job. So Nehemiah was afraid because the King had noticed his sadness.
Nehemiah then goes on to tell the King that he is sad because the city where he is from and where his family is buried is in ruins. He then asks the King to allow him to return to Judah to rebuild.
To make a long story short, the King agrees to let him go, gives him letters to show along the way giving the King’s permission for him to pass through various regions, and also agrees to his request to supply the lumber needed to rebuild the walls of the city.
And in Nehemiah 2:8 it says:
“And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.”
Nehemiah had been praying a long time for this. But the answer to his prayers was delayed for a time. So now Nehemiah knows the hand of the Lord is on him and it is time!
Not only was it time, but the King gave him everything he needed AND sent officers and an army with him!
Meet the “Ites”
So Nehemiah is arriving in Jerusalem and Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite hear about Nehemiah’s arrival.
They are not happy about this! Nehemiah 2:10 tells us:
..”it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel”
They did not even yet know that Nehemiah had come to rebuild the wall. They were displeased that someone had even come to check on the welfare of the people of Israel!
So Nehemiah 2:16-20 tells us
“And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work. Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.
Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.
When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem the Arabian heard what Nehemiah was doing they laughed them to scorn and despised them!”
The Hebrew word used here for “laughed them to scorn” is la’ag, which means to mock and laugh.
The Hebrew word used here for “despised them” is “bazah”, which means to hold in contempt or be contemptuous. The NIV says “they mocked and ridiculed us”.
So, have you ever been mocked, laughed at, ridiculed for your faith in God? Have you ever had someone show contempt?
People Will Judge You For Following God
People in the world do not understand our faith. They think it’s foolish! They see Christians as bigots, narrow-minded, blind sheep. People will make fun of what they don’t understand.
1 Corinthians 1:18 tells us:
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.”
Hollywood and popular culture almost thrive on making fun of Christianity and its values. The late night “comedy” show, Saturday Night Live even did a skit that made fun of the movie, God’s Not Dead 2.
They label Christians hateful and bigoted and then respond with something hateful and bigoted.
But what about when it is not coming from Hollywood? What about when it comes from our own family or our own friends? Many Christians have lost people because of their faith!
Who are your “ites”?
How Do You Respond When Your Faith Is Ridiculed?
Pray For Those Who Persecute You
Don’t get into debates with them. Don’t challenge them. Pray for them.
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”
Yes! Praise God for your persecution because it comes with a blessing!
1 Peter 4:14:
“If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for, in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you”
When Nehemiah knew his “ites” would come against him and try to fight him, he prayed and guarded the city!
Nehemiah 4:7-9 says:
“But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.”
They prayed and guarded the city!
Pray and guard your heart, as my pastor says!!
Pray, put on the armor of God and get in the Word!
Nehemiah 4:17 says:
“…The laborers carried on their work….”
They kept moving forward! They did not stop the work God had for them.
“…with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon.”
One hand supported their load. One hand did the work. But the other hand held a weapon.
We are to carry on our work AND stay in the Word! The Word of God is our weapon!
When people ridicule you for your faith, pray for them, praise and worship God, pray for God to place a guard on your heart, and continue doing what God has called you to while staying in the Word.
Satan wants nothing more for you to stop. He wants nothing more than for you to turn away from what God wants you to do! Keep moving forward!! It may cost us friends, it may even cost us family! But God promises we will be blessed when we are persecuted!!
When people ridicule you for your faith, pray for them, praise and worship God, pray for God to place a guard on your heart, and continue doing what God has called you to while staying in the Word.Click To Tweet
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