Here in New Zealand and in the UK, we often hear about someone getting the mickey taken out of them. Originally this was a racist term against Irishmen who were stereotyped as hotheads. Taking the “mickey” (all those surnames beginning with Mc or Mac!) meant to take all of the fight, vigor and self-importance out of someone by mocking them. Today the phrase endures every time someone is the victim of a prank, joke or outright mockery.
In Nehemiah chapter four, the Jews who wanted to rebuild the walls of God’s city were getting the mickey taken out of them! “[W]hen Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews?” (Neh. 4:1-2)
The mockery of Sanballat continued with a “Who do these punks think they are?” tone of voice and list of rhetorical questions. (vs. 2b) Mob psychology being what it is, Sanballat’s buddy Tobiah chimed in, “Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.” (vs. 3)
Do you ever get mocked for doing what was right? Have you had to endure the crowd throwing immature insults your way simply because you’re a servant of Jesus Christ? It can be humiliating, infuriating and cause us to react in the flesh in ways we often later regret. Nehemiah’s godly response however is a reminder of how we should respond in these situations. Consider:
1) Nehemiah did not meet mockery with mockery. This is the reaction of the immature and carnal – a fleshly lashing out that may make us feel good for a minute, but almost always results in making the situation worse. You end up lowering yourself to the level of the fool who mocked you – “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.” (Prov. 26:4) You will not get any joy or peace from such a reaction – “If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.” (Prov. 29:9)
2) Nehemiah did not lose his temper. The tone of the verses that follow certainly shows Nehemiah was angry, but he did not vomit an angry backlash at his mockers. Remember, “Be ye angry, and sin not.” (Eph. 4:26) Scorners delight in their scorning and are an abomination to men. (Prov. 1:22; 24:9) Angrily reproving them and rebuking them will only make you look foolish! “He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame....” (Prov. 9:7a)
3) Nehemiah took the matter to God. “Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee....” (vs. 4-5) Nehemiah did not only take his burden to the Lord and leave it there, but also asked God for justice – to make the situation right – to punish these scorners and mockers! When someone does you wrong, remember that God can always deal with it far better than you can. Paul’s advice to hurting Christians in this situation was, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Rom. 12:19)
4) Nehemiah remembered what the real issue was. “...let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders.” (v. 5) We take these things so personally and forget that the devil is working through our enemies to attack Christ in us. We are ambassadors for Christ delivering his message to a lost world – the enemy will not take this laying down and mockery, opposition, and persecution will be the result. Look at the big picture – humble yourself for a minute and remember that it’s not all about you – it’s all about Jesus Christ.
For a Christian, when someone tries to take the mickey out of you, they are after the Christ in in you – respond as He would instead of how your flesh would like to!