The Jews complained that were being hard done by and suffering extortion, not from outsiders but from their own Jewish brethren, verse 1. Some were large families without property. Some had mortgaged their fields and houses to provide food for their families. The third group had borrowed money for the king’s taxes and as a result their children were forced into being slaves, and they saw no way out for them or their family. Their complaints were valid. It was against their law for Jews to change interest on other Jews when it was being lent to the poor in emergency situations, Exodus 22:25.
If you have a legitimate complaint to whom do you take your complaints? For example if you have a complaint about someone in your government, or your church do you go through the appropriate person or just complain to anyone who will listen.
Nehemiah was angry when he heard what was happening. But he did not go off half cocked. First he stopped to consider, then he approached the nobles and rulers, verse 11. He rebuked them for the treatment of the poor and urged them to stop the practice, which they agreed to do, verse 12. People praised God when they heard.
What is your reaction when people come to you with complaints? Do you let unbridled anger dictate your actions or do you stop and consider the complaints and look for a solution as Nehemiah did?
Nehemiah 5: 14-19
For the whole time that Nehemiah was governor over the people – for 12 years, neither he nor his family ate the food allowance. Unlike governors before him he did not take bread and wine and silver from the people. And he continued to work alongside the people on the wall. Yet he was hospitable in all he had. He was careful not to add further burdens on the people but to be seen to be doing the right thing.
How willing are you to concede your rights in order not to be a hindrance and burden others but to help them? Are you willing as Nehemiah was to leave it to God to reward you?
Nehemiah 5 is a great example of working together and helping the poor. It’s rather like the example we have seen in Australia and from others around the world, as they work togther and seek to support and help those who suffered in the recent bushfires.
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