Updated: Feb 21
Chan Gin Kai
But Zerubbabel, Joshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us.” (Ezra 4:3)
When the Jews started rebuilding the Temple, their enemies (the Samaritans) offered to help them. But they were united in refusing help.
They had so much to do and were short on human resources. Extra hands and financial resources would have come in useful, and the offer of help must have been tempting. But the Jews rightly rejected the offers.
Partnership with the Samaritans would have been an acceptance of their ways, and an approval of their worship of other gods. They also risked being corrupted by Samaritan influences.
Avoiding Dangerous Liaisons
Couldn’t the Jews have accepted the help but resisted the bad influence?
It is easy for us to fall for ungodly partnerships. They may be sinful sexual relationships, romantic ties with people of different faiths, or business ventures with people who hold different principles. If we aren’t close to God, we may even view these dangerous liaisons as attractive opportunities.
These “opportunities” often hit us when we lack faith that God will provide us with better solutions. We feel the loneliness or see the difficulties around us and feel discouraged. So when options for ungodly partnerships emerge, they appear like viable choices. We start thinking that these ungodly alliances would solve our problems. But they often turn out to be slippery slopes that bring us deeper into misery.
We deceive ourselves we can ward off unhealthy influences, putting more faith in our shaky convictions than God’s steadfast promises. Our desperation blinds us to the traps and our pride blinds us to our weaknesses.
The pragmatist regards help from ungodly sources appealing, and the self-confident deems risks from ungodly influence trivial. But as Christians, we need to avoid such help no matter how convenient or enticing.
The True Colours Will Show
Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. They bribed officials to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia. (Ezra 4:4-5)
Once their offers were declined, the true colours of the Samaritans quickly appeared. Their duplicity became apparent and the attacks began. Offers to help rebuild the Temple became attempts to sabotage the work.
Not long ago, I worked very closely with some people with undesirable principles. I could see some of the wrong things they do, but they appeared to offer good opportunities too. Because I lacked faith that God would provide better solutions, I closed an eye to their behaviour.
I was initially confident I wouldn’t succumb to their bad influences and even thought I could change them. But I soon found myself sucked into their ways. I was becoming like them, and hated it. When I eventually decided to break away from them, they started attacking me with a vengeance. Their true colours emerged, and it was an ugly hue of jealousy and malice.
There are some who can fake friendship, pretend expertise and lie through their nose to get what they want. But do we heed the warning when alarm bells start ringing? Do we enter into ungodly relationships because we lack faith in God’s providence? Let’s not be surprised when people’s true colours show.
Trust that God will always provide a better solution.
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God". Gin Kai joined the Central Christian Church in 1988.