Friday, June 27
Everybody wants to be heard. We’ve got tweets, posts, emails, texts, SnapChats, Yelps, and the one all but forgotten by th younger generation; face-to-face conversation. So we talk, and we rant, but there are sometimes that we actually want people to listen. We desire to be like Nehemiah, that when he speaks, things change.
There was a famine in the land, (5:3), and the poor and powerless were suffering the greatest. Their more affluent brothers were loaning them money, only they were charging a healthy interest rate, and collecting property as collateral, (5:5). This may ring a bell as we have read what Moses wrote in the Levitacal law about interest, “”If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit.” Lev 25:35-37. Nehemiah knew the Law, and knew that it was being broken, so he spoke up.
It’s not easy to speak up on issues, because you run the risk of putting yourself out there, and people still may not listen to you. Thankfully, God gave us Nehemiah’s life to show us how we have to live if we want people to listen. Here’s three observations of how Nehemiah lived, and thus why the people listened.
1. Nehemiah knew the Law (5:9)- We have been given the Law, just like Nehemiah, but more than that, we have been blessed with the Holy Spirit to guide our hearts in matters of right and wrong. If Nehemiah had not known the law, and certainly if he wasn’t convicted that it was the right way to live, he never would have spoken up. If we want people to listen to us; in our workplaces, homes, or as we share the Gospel with strangers, they must sense our conviction to speak.
2. Nehemiah was generous (5:15) – No one would have ever listened ot Nehemiah if is life had not looked different to begin with. Other govenors had taxed the people so that the could enjoy lavish meals, but Nehemiah refused to tax the people in that way, and ate from his own supply. He was not only providing food for himself though, each day he fed 150 others in a time of famine! One ox and six sheep per day is a hefty sum, just take your last butcher bill times 50 and you might be close. Nehemiah’s heart was to serve the people and everyone was taking notice, he was already doing what he was telling the people to do.
(Side Note) Have you found yourself in the very difficult situation where you are part of the problem and you know you need to speak out against it? What did you do?
3. Nehemiah worked alongside the people (5:16.6:9)- A hard working person is always easier to work for. Beyond that, someone that is willing to work hard just because they know it is the right thing to do, and when they aren’t getting incentivised to do so, earns respect. Nehemiah had committed himself and his servants to the building of the wall, yet he wasn’t charging for his efforts. His attitude was on of perserverance, not of entitlment or self-righteousness. The people had seen him work, and knew he was someone to follow. So, when he told them they were wrong, they changed.
Needing to be listened to is universal. Maybe you’re a manager and you’re struggling to guide your team. You might be a coach or a sponsor and find yourself in a situation where you need to speak up, perhaps even against other parents. Whatever the circumstance, have you considered Nehemiah? Is your heart generous and kind, are you convicted of what is right and wrong, and have you proven yourself in difficult times? The answer to one of those questions could very well be no, and in that case you’ll need an apology to be heard as well. But, having the courage to speak is part of our obedience to the Word, and when The Lord chooses you to carry his message, there can be no greater reward.
~ Kramer Farney