I’m reading the book of Nehemiah right now. Chapter two verse two is so descriptive. The king immediately picked up on something. Let’s read his question to his trusted servant. The verse says, “…Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart…”
Nehemiah was the king’s cupbearer. Nehemiah was the king’s cupbearer. The cupbearer was responsible for selecting and serving the king’s wine. He had to taste it first to make sure that it was not poisoned. He also was a trusted companion.
Let’s go back and see why Nehemiah was so sad. Verse 3 was the report given to Nehemiah. “…The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”
Verse 4 says that he mourned and wept for many days. His grief caused him to pour out his heart before the Lord. Nehemiah 2:1 says that he had never been sad before the king before. The king instantly recognized Nehemiah’s heart was in deep sorrow.
Here is another tell-tale facial expression that revealed the heart of another king. King Nebuchadnezzar had a huge idol constructed. His orders were for everyone to bow down and worship it. Sadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refused. Daniel 3:19 says, “then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed…” The king commanded that the three Hebrew men be thrown into the fiery furnace ~ heated seven times hotter.
The Lord appeared with them in the fire. Can you just imagine what the king’s face looked like then? According to verse 27, the fire had not touched them, their hair was not singed, and the smell of fire was not on them. Amazing because they were bound in their coats, trousers, turbans, and other garments. Verse 28 was his astonished announcement. “…Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servant who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own.”
There is one more account I want to remind you of. When Stephen was being stoned, what did his face say to his persecutors? Picture Acts 7:54. It says, “…they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. Stephen’s mirror neurons did not pick up on that because his gaze was on the Lord. What a lesson for us! Verse 55 says, “but he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God!”
Here is my take away. No matter how folks are reacting to us in their flesh, we do not have to react. The essential truth is to not react in our flesh, but to come in the opposite spirit. God gives grace to the humble. When someone is angry, we must humble our heart, keep our focus on the Lord, and lean hard on His grace.
Here is another example of coming in the opposite spirit. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” A harsh word is a fleshly reaction. A soft answer comes from a heart that trusts, and is leaning hard on God’s grace to respond and not react.
Fleshly reactions reveal a heart of pride, arrogance, and a spirit of independence. We can only respond with a gracious attitude and gracious words when our heart’s gaze is on the Lord. Hebrews 11:26 Amplified says of Moses, “…for he never flinched but held staunchly to his purpose and endured steadfastly as one who gazed on Him Who is invisible.”