Today’s Readings: Psalm 36; Nehemiah 6:1-19; Matthew 16:1-12; Revelation 19:1-10
When I was in high school, I was friends with several individuals who belonged to a religious tradition much different than my own. One of the biggest differences between the tradition in which I was raised and my friend’s tradition was that my friend’s tradition had no ordained clergy persons leading the faith community.
When I questioned them about this one day during my junior year of high school, they said, “We aren’t like you because we don’t have to pay someone to tell us things we want to hear.” That comment stuck with me – obviously - as I still remember it over 25 years later! The comment struck me because it raised what I believe is an essential element of ministry: integrity.
The author of the book of Nehemiah had a similar conviction about the role integrity should play in one’s ministry – for in the story from today’s passage the author noted of Shemaiah: “I sensed that God hadn’t sent this man. The so-called prophecy he spoke to me was the work of Tobiah and Sanballat; they had hired him” (Nehemiah 6:12 from The Message).
So how did Nehemiah discern Shemaiah’s lack of integrity? By comparing his words with reality. After all, talk is cheap. The fact that the wall was rebuilt in just 52 days helped prove “that God was behind this work.”
As people who live in a culture that frequently values style over substance, I would encourage you to carry the message from today’s passage from Nehemiah with you. Don’t let others’ predictions of doom scare you off. Follow your heart in response to God’s leading and you’ll do amazing, unexpected things! Til next time…