“So Sanballat and Geshem sent a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono.
But I realized they were plotting to harm me, so I replied by sending this message to them: “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?” Neh. 6:2-3 NLT
Nehemiah was equipped with discernment.
Many people confuse being discerning with being negative or cynical; but discernment is just as able to see the good where others might miss it as it is at seeing bad where others might see good according to the outward appearance.
We are often deceived by outward appearances along with charm and flattery; “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” 1 Samuel 16:7.
Christians today suffer a great deal because they lack discernment. They follow leaders and teachers who give a good appearance, but don’t walk in the nature of Jesus. They accept things blindly because it looks good or sounds good, without carefully judging it against the whole counsel of God’s Word. We might even picture Nehemiah going to the Word of God, and equipping himself with discernment.
Perhaps he read Proverbs 27:6: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”. That passage alone would remind him to not look to outward appearances, but to judge soberly.
Discernment gave Nehemiah focus; he knew what God wanted him to be doing and he did it. He would not be sidetracked by things that sounded good, but were not of the Lord for him.
Nehemiah had to be willing to be seen as the bad guy in order to do what is right by the people of God. He could see what the nobles of Judah could not. He knew that Tobiah’s good deeds were not the whole story - all the while, Tobiah was sending frightening letters to Nehemiah.
Many people live paralyzed by the fear of what others are saying about them, or what they might say about them. People will talk anyway and there is little you can do about it, other than be determined that you will NOT make you afraid.
The task of every believer is to discern in which direction the Holy Spirit is moving, then move in that direction.
We are in a time when most people “will not put up with sound doctrine…..they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (II Tim. 4:3)
So much teaching today seeks a “feel good” reception. No stigma, no offense of the cross, no appeal to self-denial, little that is God-centered but what will keep people asleep, undiscerning, blind and impervious to the real present danger.
Healing, miracles and prophecy naturally fascinate us – unless it is a word of knowledge that exposes our sin.
If we really believe in the spiritual gifts, whatever happened to discernment? We should eagerly desire it in order to make a distinction between the real and the counterfeit – not to mention discovering the Holy Spirit’s mind.
We lack discernment partly because we are asleep. Jesus prophesied that in the last generation the church would be asleep (Matt.25:5).
The church is in a deep, deep sleep.