For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.
–2 Timothy 1:7
To stop Nehemiah from finishing his work, Nehemiah’s enemies threatened him with isolation and intimidation. But those attacks did not work. Their third attack was the most severe, and that is elimination–they threatened to kill him. Look at Nehemiah 6:10: “When I entered the house of Shemaiah . . . he said, ‘Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you.’” Who was Shemaiah? He was a self-proclaimed prophet of God. He came to Nehemiah and said, “Your enemies are going to kill you. You better follow me into the holy place of the temple and hide.” Nehemiah was skeptical of this prophecy. He said in verse 11, “Should a man like me flee?” He was saying, “It does not make sense that God would tell me to run away from my responsibility. That does not sound like the God I know.” He went on to say, “And could one such as I go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in” (v. 11). Numbers 18 says only priests could go into the most holy place in the temple. What Shemaiah was telling Nehemiah to do would have violated God’s Word. God will never call you to do something that violates His Word. Nehemiah understood that. Look at Nehemiah 6:12-13: “Then I perceived that surely God had not sent him, but he uttered his prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him . . . that I might become frightened and act accordingly and sin.” Nehemiah realized that had he given in to fear and violated the Word of God, he would have been discredited. His ministry would have been over. So despite the threat against his life, Nehemiah said no.
Anytime you allow fear to cause you to run away from your God-given call in life, you are acting outside God’s will. God never uses fear of man to motivate us. In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul said, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” Anytime you abandon your responsibility out of fear, you are outside the will of God. Furthermore, anytime you disobey God to save your own skin, you are also out of God’s will. If you bail out of a marriage for other than biblical reasons, if you cheat on a test, or fudge a report at work to make yourself look better, sure, you may have temporary relief, but ultimately you will face the judgment of God. The reason God blessed Nehemiah was because he refused to allow fear to cause him to abandon his responsibilities or abandon his obedience to God.
What was the result of Nehemiah’s steadfast spirit? Look at Nehemiah 6:15-16: “So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations surrounding us saw it, they lost their confidence; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.” Nehemiah’s enemies threatened him, but he did not stop pursuing his God-given call. He was successful because he refused to be paralyzed by the fear factor.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Overcoming The Fear Factor” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org