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The Threat Of Intimidation

Do not take seriously all words which are spoken.
–Ecclesiastes 7:21

First, Nehemiah’s enemies threatened him with isolation. When that did not work, they launched a second and more severe attack upon Nehemiah, and that is intimidation. Look at Nehemiah 6:5-7: “Then Sanballat sent his servant to me in the same way a fifth time with an open letter in his hand. In it was written, ‘It is reported among the nations, and Gashmu says, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel; therefore you are rebuilding the wall. And you are to be their king, according to these reports. You have also appointed prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning you, ‘A king is in Judah!’ And now it will be reported to the king according to these reports. So come now, let us take counsel together.’” You see what Sanballat was doing? He was saying, “There is a rumor going around that you are planning to rebel against King Artaxerxes. So you had better sit down and visit with us before you find yourself in real trouble.”

Have you ever been the victim of a rumor? Have you ever spread a rumor? Let me talk a little bit about rumors and why they are so powerful in intimidating us. Chuck Swindoll in his book “Hand Me Another Brick” gave three characteristics of rumors. First of all, he said, rumors usually lack a source. You see that in this passage in Nehemiah. Sanballat said, “It is reported that you are planning a rebellion.” He did not say who it was that was making these reports–and that is because it was Sanballat himself. Whenever you ask somebody who is spreading a rumor, “Exactly who is saying this?” usually they do not want to give you a name. That is because it is usually them, their mate, and their best friend who are the source of the rumor. Ecclesiastes 7:21 says, “Do not take seriously all words which are spoken.” That is particularly true of words spoken against you that lack a source. Do not take them seriously.

Thirty-four years ago on a Saturday night, my wife and I were returning home to the parsonage in our first pastorate, and I noticed a letter in the mailbox. It was a hand-delivered letter just to me. It was five pages in length, and it was filled with the most caustic, critical, hateful comments you can imagine. I can still recite whole passages from that letter because I stood there and I read it over and over again. That is the last anonymous letter I ever read. Now I always do the same thing with any letter I get: first I go to the end and look at the signature. If there is no signature or it says “a concerned church member,” I wad that letter up immediately and throw it in the wastebasket. Yes, there are times when I am tempted to read one of those letters. But I do not have the luxury of allowing negative thoughts to be planted in my mind, especially thoughts that do not have a source attributed to them. I do not have that luxury and neither do you. Do not pay attention to rumors that have no source. Nehemiah learned that.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Overcoming The Fear Factor” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.

Charles R. Swindoll, “Hand Me Another Brick: Timeless Lessons On Leadership,” rev. ed. (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1998).

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.


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