Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all just get along? My entire world would be different and I would take much less ibuprophen if my kids would stop instigating fights with one another. Sometimes the girl child causes the problem but an equal amount of times, it’s the boy. Since he’s younger and more easily injured, I assume he is the victim but he is a crafty little joker. I have secretly lurked around corners and seen him scream like he’s hurt but the girl is nowhere near him. Turns out he just likes to occasionally yelp in order to get his sister in trouble…
And as adults there are still fights. We STILL can’t seem to get along! Sometimes there is good reason. Lots of times actually. Selfishness pervades our lives even when we’re careful to check our motives. Most of the time, if we are honest, we have at least a small part in the problem and the right thing to do is own it.
But sometimes, sometimes we can’t get along with someone and for-the-life-of-us we can’t see anything we could do to remedy the situation. Do you have one of those people? I do. Try as I may, it just isn’t ever going to be a love connection.
I have been reading through Nehemiah (I wrote about it here and here). I was encouraged to hear that he had one of those guys too! His name was Sanballat (which was likely the main reason he was so cross). Even though Nehemiah knew God wanted him to rebuild the wall is was not going to happen without opposition. Nehemiah 2:10 says the others around him were “very displeased.”
Hold it one second. What he’s up to is a good thing. How can other people be upset? Why are they so angry? Up until recently I would have said (naively) that if you’re doing the right thing other people will be able to see that and it will go well with you. If they are not happy with your actions, you’re probably in the wrong somehow.
Having people-pleasing tendencies, it was very difficult for me in my situation to keep remembering even if other people are angry at me that doesn’t necessarily mean I was doing anything wrong. There are times when people are just going to dislike us. It doesn’t feel great but it is a fact, Jack.
A Time to Shun
It makes me think of the Office episode when Dwight decides for some ridiculous reason to shun Andy. Here is the only clip I could find of it. It’s worth looking at if you’ve never seen it:
While I don’t advocate meanness (Dwight is funny but not exactly nice), his strategy can actually be helpful at times. He is expertly focusing on NOT focusing on Andy. Does that make any sense? If you think about it, it’s exactly what Nehemiah did.
Sanballat and his friends talked a bunch of trash. Nehemiah focused on what God had called him to do. Later in chapter 6, Sanballat tries to trick Nehemiah and calls him away from the wall building several times. Nehemiah's response: Sorry, dude. I’m busy. I can’t play. I won’t be distracted.
Such good reminders to focus. “Shun” the distractions and the negativity of people who are trying to make you feel badly or guilty about the work before you and focus. He who calls you is faithful and He also will do it! (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
For the visual learners and for those who feel that the shun is just too difficult, I have put together a visual aid:
Children can do it.
Babies can do it.
Cartoons can do it.
Manequins can do it,
Even a parrot can do it.
You can do this!
Prayers for you today if you are facing a present day Sanballat. Follow in Nehemiah's footsteps and focus on the work God has given you.