The Enemy’s Poisonous Darts: Distortion
The second of the enemy’s darts Nehemiah had to deal with in chapter 6 of his book was the dart of distortion (see vv. 5-9).
Normally, important governmental correspondence was put in a scroll and sealed with wax so other people couldn’t read it. But this particular time Sanballat corresponded with Nehemiah, it came in an open letter. Wouldn’t you be a little unnerved if all the mail you got in your mailbox was open? That’s basically what the enemy was doing—he was sending open mail because he wanted the contents to go viral. He wanted to spread rumors to undermine Nehemiah’s authority and start division. That was the whole goal of this distortion campaign.
Do you ever get forwarded emails with a bunch of questionable or downright false information? I hate those things! As a matter of fact, I won’t even open them up. They’re unhelpful.
That’s what was happening to Nehemiah. This letter was a load of bunk, yet people were listening to it. Three charges were listed in this open letter: that Nehemiah and the Jews were plotting treason, that Nehemiah wanted to be king, and that Nehemiah had bribed prophets to endorse him. This is what the enemy said was happening, but it was all lies.
My husband Skip and I, as most people I’ve met in the ministry, have over the years been attacked by bloggers and vicious letters and nasty rumors. It’s just a very sad, difficult part of being in leadership. And when someone says you did something, and you say, “Did not,” it’s hard to prove that. You’re put in a very untenable situation. But you know what? It’s a waste of time. To defend something that is untrue from people who are unkind takes you off the wall, away from the work the Lord has called you to do.
So Nehemiah “sent to [Sanballat], saying, ‘No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart.’ For they were all trying to make us afraid, saying, ‘Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.’ Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands” (Nehemiah 6:8-9). He simply denied the content of the letter, continued the work, and prayed.
And that’s what I recommend you do when someone is gossiping or distorting facts about you: ignore it, continue doing what God’s called you to do, and pray.