SHAKEN OUT AND EMPTIED

Today's devotion from Nehemiah 5 and 6.

I am always amazed at the nonstop attacks that many of God's chosen leaders have to face. I know I sound like a broken record, but one could imagine that God would pave the way for His servants. However, this is rarely the case, and especially not the case in the ministry of Nehemiah.

Nehemiah has the dual responsibility of being a strong political leader (governor), a motivating project manager (wall), and a steadfast religious executor (implementing ceremonial and civil law in accordance with the Law of the Old Testament). When you begin to really consider all that he had to overcome, Nehemiah quickly becomes the go-to book for myriad church leaders seeking insight and inspiration.

As you read through these two chapters presented today, you saw, what I consider, one of the most courageous acts of leadership in Nehemiah's ministry. Many might look to the notion of Nehemiah building a wall with one hand and holding a sword with the other, but I would disagree. It would be easy to rally the entire populace against an invading force. What might be more difficult is getting those who are prospering through illicit practices to not only admit their guilt, but to change their practices.

From the beginning, God had made it clear that His vision for Israel was special. The allotment of the land was specific. The treatment of farmsteads was governed. Even banking practices were established to protect the poor and weak. All of this was made plain in the Law. Yet, Nehemiah had the displeasure of having to call to task some of the leaders of this community for practicing these outlawed policies that were enslaving their fellow Israelites.

These people needed to be reminded that God's kingdom principles are radically different from those of the world. The elite of this replanted society were not there to be served by the returning exiles. In fact, it was exactly the opposite. Nehemiah goes to great lengths to make sure that his audience knows that he had the right to expect a governor's portion, yet he denied that right in service to the people. Further, he continued to provide out of his own pocket for those within his care as members of his courtly entourage. He not only confronted those in need of clarification, but he lived it out for them to see.

Nehemiah demonstrates a wonderful and profound truth...balance. He has to know the expectations, communicate the expectation, AND live out the expectation. When we are sifting through Nehemiah for leadership ideas, perhaps this would be a great place to start?