In every era God’s people are called to live in righteousness. We need good examples of holiness all around us so that we can see the right way to go and imitate it. Nehemiah was an example to the returned exiles in his day.
As the governor over the people Nehemiah was not afraid to confront them because of their abuse of the poor. The Law of God had provisions of mercy to help the weak. Those with the ability to come alongside their neighbors in times of difficulty were to lend generously to their brother Israelites. They were not to consider the hardship of others as an opportunity to get rich through the collecting of interest. The sabbath year, the year of Jubilee, and even the laws for indentured servitude were all directed toward helping those who were in need. These statutes were a very enlightened system for training up the needy and providing for their growth in dignity and industry. But the people of God did not obey the Lord’s commandments concerning these matters.
Nehemiah confronted the rich among the people of his day. He heard the cries of desperate men and women. He took action to bring freedom to those in bondage and to stop people who were abusing others.
Nehemiah was not a hypocrite, accusing others of wrongdoing while he made himself rich at everyone else’s expense. He was a man who knew how to give. He was willing to forgo what was his by right in order to make sure that the basic needs of many other people were satisfied. Others before him had not been as generous. Why was Nehemiah different? He feared God. He also called upon the Lord in prayer, asking God to remember his obedience in caring for the least of those who were among the children of Israel.
The gospel of the cross and the resurrection which is our life does not scoff at works of mercy. It insists that those who have experienced divine generosity through the gift of Jesus must be generous with their possessions and their lives. We care for young and old because Jesus has cared for us. We need not be embarrassed to ask the Lord to take note of our works. He has told us that He will one day publicly acknowledge that what we have done to the least of these His brothers we have actually done to Him. When you give to the poor you lend to the Lord. It is our privilege to be like Nehemiah because it is God’s gift to us to be saved through the blood of His Son.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Our God, will we destroy our own people in Your church and ruin Your mission from within? Grant us godly leaders who will move forward in truth. We need to walk in Your fear. We need to use our resources in a godly way. We must not abuse the weak. Sanctify Your people and purify Your church. Teach us the blessing of not taking what may seem to be our right, so that we can care for those who need our help. May many people be fed at our tables and give glory to Your Name, for You are the Giver of every good gift.