Being Positive in a Negative World

“Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me.  And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work” (Neh. 2:17-18).

The task of rebuilding the walls of the city of Jerusalem was a monumental work.  It would take the cooperation of all the people of God to complete it.  It was done (cf. Neh. 6:15) but not without opposition.  Consider three spiritual principles necessary for a positive attitude in a negative environment.

  1. Set Your Affections on Things Above. Nehemiah focused his and their attention on spiritual things.  When opposition arose at the first news of the effort (cf. Neh. 2:19), Nehemiah stated, “The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem” (Neh. 2:20).  The Holy Spirit through Paul exhorts God’s people today, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-2).  Keeping the ultimate goal in constant focus helps with handling the distractions that constantly surround.  The blessed man knows this.  “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Ps. 1:1-2).
  2. Surround Yourself with Right Thinking People. Nehemiah did not face his responsibility alone.  While God was ever with him, even as the enemies realized (cf. Neh. 6:16), there were many faithful people involved in the work.  Nehemiah organized the restoration of the walls (cf. Neh. 3) and the people “had a mind to work” (Neh. 4:6).  Men like Hanani and Hananiah were given responsibilities due to their faithfulness and God fearing qualities (cf. Neh. 7:2).  Ezra was there on that great day of the reading of the law (cf. Neh. 8).  While the people had spiritual problems even after the walls were rebuilt (cf. Neh. 13), Nehemiah did not stand alone in the work of the Lord.  The Bible does not say in vain, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Prov. 13:20).
  3. Strengthen Your Heart and Mind Through Prayer. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).  A study of Nehemiah the man is a case study of prayer.  His first step in the right direction when problems arose was prayer (cf. Neh. 1:4-11).  When about to give answer to the king for his sadness (cf. Neh. 2:1ff), prayer to God was his recourse (cf. Neh. 2:4).  Discouragement and despair can easily arise in the storms of life when viewed with fleshly eyes.  Biblical optimism is the product of full confidence in the source of all answers and strength: God.  Truly, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).                                                                                                   

Jimmy Clark