The Art of Perseverance: Nehemiah 2:19-20 (When Critics Show Up)

“You’ll never be able to finish.”

“That’s way too hard for you to try.”

“There’s no way you can do that.”

Ever heard these words? Critics are all around. Some are good, but many think they know more about your task or trial than you do. Those are the ones who are quick to tell you what you should do, or that you can’t persevere. They’re usually negative and discouraging.

Perseverance would be a breeze if it weren’t for those darn critics!

Maybe.

Or perhaps God places them in our lives to help build the strength we need to persevere?

No sooner had Nehemiah rallied his troops to rebuild the walls when his critics opened their big mouths (2:19):

19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?”

Response Makes All the Difference

Someone once said that there’s always an ounce of truth in every criticism. Maybe. But absolutes like that should always be taken for what they are–principles.

Here’s how Nehemiah responded:

20 I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”

Nehemiah’s response centered on the faithfulness of God and the truth of the matter. Nehemiah had done his homework, patiently waited, and wisely made his move. His critics clearly intended to thwart his calling. So Nehemiah plainly stated that they have no room to talk.

In other words, he decided not to listen.

When To Listen

When critics try to thwart what God clearly tells you to do, it’s obvious you should listen to God instead. But there are times when criticism is beneficial.

When it comes from someone you trust.

When it comes from someone who loves you.

When it comes from someone who is wise.

When it comes from someone who’s been down that road before.

When the same criticism comes from multiple sources.

These are times to listen with the intention that there maybe truth in what is said.

And we all know who are worst critic is.

That’s right. Ourselves. We can really beat ourselves up when perseverance becomes tough. I know I have.

So I finish this post with something a good friend sent me this morning. It’s from Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling.

“I want you to experience the riches of your salvation: the Joy of being loved constantly and perfectly. You make a practice of judging yourself based on how you look or behave or feel. If you like what you see in the mirror, you feel a bit more worthy of My Love. When things are going smoothly and your performance seems adequate, you find it easier to believe you are My beloved child. When you feel discouraged, you tend to look inward so you can correct whatever is wrong.

Instead of trying to ‘fix’ yourself, fix your gaze on Me, the Lover of your soul. Rather than using your energy to judge yourself, redirect it to praising Me. Remember that I see you clothed in My righteousness, radiant in My perfect Love.” (Eph. 2:7-8; Heb. 3:1; Ps. 34:3)

Perhaps you should read that a couple more times.

I did. Thanks Mike!

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