The request that Tobiah and Sanballat made of Nehemiah in the second verse of Chapter 6 sounded reasonable and innocent: “Come, let us meet together at Chephirim in the plain of Ono.” But as in most situations, there is a context here, and there was more to it. Nehemiah responded accordingly, and we can learn from it:
These men had consistently opposed Nehemiah’s efforts to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, and had threatened to attack those working with him. Thus Nehemiah knew they had something else in mind when they gave him the “invitation.” In fact he says at the end of the verse: “But they were planning to harm me.” He looked beyond the surface meaning of their words, and discerned their true intent. Life often calls for us to make similar judgments.
Not every “harmless invitation” you receive is really harmless. Not every “reasonable”-sounding idea really is. There are people who put on an “air of innocence”, yet are anything but. We have to be wise enough to realize that, and like Nehemiah, prudent enough to respond accordingly. Just because we are Christians — and especially because we are — we are not to cast good judgment and discernment to the wind. Surely this is part of what Jesus meant when He told His followers in Matthew 10:16, “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”