Nehemiah Chapter four ended on a note of great victory. The people of God were doing the work of God, and they did it despite all obstacles. And, they would not let their enemies stop them. But in chapter five, the mission of rebuilding the Jerusalem wall was nearly wrecked by internal dissension and strife, famine, food crisis, taxation. The wealthier Jews had taken advantage of the terrible situation of those who were less fortunate and reduced many of them to slavery.
Nehemiah was under tremendous pressure. There is nothing like the test of your leadership from within your own organization.
It is said that, an internal enemy is potentially more dangerous than the external threats, because it threatens the unity of an organization. Here the rich Jewish leaders in Jerusalem were ill-using the poor. Nehemiah says, "Then I was very angry when I had heard their outcry and these words" (Vs 5:6). This is the anger of a righteous man. There are times when the only response to a situation is anger. How did Nehemiah handle his anger?
"I consulted with myself and contended with the nobles and the rulers…” (v 5:7). Although angry, Nehemiah consulted with himself first- he thought it over, he reasoned the situation through, before he questioned the nobles and rulers. It simply means, he practiced self-control with steadfastness. 2 Peter 1:5-7 “make every effort to supplement your faith… knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness”.
How do we behave and respond at home or at work under pressure? Sometimes it’s the little things that undermine our Christian witness.
Nehemiah called upon the leaders to stop the evil behavior (V 5:11). There is a symbolic act described in verse thirteen where Nehemiah is seen shaking out his garments as a prophetic warning that God would hold accountable anyone who had promised to do the right thing and disobey. Nehemiah was calling upon a prophetic judgment of God for disobedience. And they, nobles and rulers agreed with him and said “amen”. They believed that one day, they will stand accountable to God and therefore dealt with the mistake immediately.
If God has made you sensitive to any situations in which you need to voice your opinion or take action, would you take that bold stand? A prompt and thorough dealing with wrong in our lives is essential.
To finish, we read of Nehemiah’s personal testimony from Vs 14-19. One of the advantages of being governor was the food allowance granted him by the Persian officials for entertaining guests. Nehemiah did not take advantage of this benefit that was rightfully his. He provided these needs from his own personal funds.
He truly, was a man of integrity. He did not take advantage of the "perks" that come with the job. He stayed within his own means and used his personal wealth to feed the less fortunate. Nehemiah's life was a public demonstration of an honest administrator. There was no abuse or misuse of power, privilege or money. "The fear of God" (V15) was the motive of Nehemiah's service. He was dealing with the people as God would have him to do - just as God would.
How is God challenging us to be that blessing of His grace to others in our lives today? Give forgiveness to someone when it’s not even asked for? Give a dinner or a lunch to hurting friend? Give time to someone who needs to talk?
At the end of the day, like Nehemiah can we honestly go before God and say, “Remember me for this day, for good, for all I have done for Your people?” (Vs 19)
The love of the Lord Jesus Christ is the only motive that inspires a person to stay right before God and keep his life pure and clean. Where do we find the power to overcome? It is in the resurrected power of our Lord Jesus Christ that Paul talks about in I Corinthians 15:12-19.
Dear Lord Jesus, let me be honest before you, about the little things that are not right in Your sight. I pray that I will be a faithful servant in the place where You planted me. Please teach me to identify with those hurting around me and whose “outcry” I need to hear. I look to You to give me the strength to walk in integrity and work hard for an audience of One.