“For it is not an enemy who taunts me— then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me— then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng.”
The Greatest Threat—Division Within! (v. 1-5)
“Now there arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers.”
The Greatest Need—Repent and Unite! (v. 6-13)
“I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words.”
“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”
“for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”
“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
Things that Caused Division:
1. They were being abusive to their brothers (v. 7). Nehemiah reminded them that they were robbing their “brothers.”
2. They were greedy, putting people in bondage just to make money (v. 8).
3. Their actions were not good by any stretch (v. 9a).
4. They were damaging the testimony of God and setting up their enemies (v. 9b). Instead of making people thirsty for God, they were making their enemies mouths water with delight for destruction.
The Greatest help—A good example! (v. 14-19)
“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ "
“Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the food allowance of the governor. The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God. I also persevered in the work on this wall, and we acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. Moreover, there were at my table 150 men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. Now what was prepared at my expense for each day was one ox and six choice sheep and birds, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the service was too heavy on this people. Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.”
Principles of Nehemiah’s Leadership
1. Make no excuses for abusive behavior—“everybody does it” didn’t guide his actions, God’s word did. (v. 14-15)
2. Live and lead with reverence for God. (v.15)
3. Persevere in the work of God. (v.16)
What do we learn:
In relationships—unity is essential so
- Make love for God our priority!
- Make love for others our practice!
- Make generosity our pursuit!
2 Corinthians 8:8-9
“I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
1 John 3:16-18
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.”
“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”