Now it came to pass when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;) That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you? Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner. – Nehemiah 6:1-4
Nehemiah had been blessed time and again to lead the Israelites through trials, arguments, and threats. Their work was continuing at an amazing speed. The wall was almost finished. All they had left was to put up the gates and doors.
When Sanballat and the others heard about the progress, they just couldn’t stand it. They had tried all their bully tactics and lies, but nothing was slowing down Nehemiah. Other than a full out attack, they had only one option left, distraction. If they could not get Nehemiah to quit out of fear, perhaps they could distract him so that his work would never be finished.
But, like Bunyun’s Pilgrim, Nehemiah stops his ears to the distraction. He reminds himself and others that the work they are doing is not only good, it is great! It was a huge undertaking and no distraction should be allowed to get in the way. Nehemiah knew that the very ones who were trying to distract him necessitated the building of the wall!
We too should have this singular focus in our discipleship. We are doing good things as part of a great work! We have the duty of promoting the kingdom of God in our lives and the lives of others all for the glory of God. This is a great work! Let’s not let the distractions of entertainment, laziness, greed, pride, or fame distract us from our work. Why should we turn aside from our great work? The Christian lives which we build are actually saving us from getting caught up in these sins.
As we journey on each day, let us keep in mind the words of this old hymn:
The songsters in the arbor, that stood beside the way
Attracted his attention, invited his delay
His watchword being “Onward!”, he stopped his ears and ran
Still shouting as he journeyed, “Deliverance will come!”
Then palms of victory, crowns of glory
Palms of victory, I shall wear