By Karen Polich
Pastor Michael Cook’s Restore sermon series brings us to Nehemiah Chapter 5. (Listen to the podcast here.)
Here we learn that the fight continues, but this time it is not from an outside enemy. The conflict against restoration comes from within. The battle comes from insiders involved in the restoration. Those working on rebuilding the walls faced the challenges of having walked away from their livelihoods and all supporting elements that kept their families fed and cared for. This meant that they were in a position of having to borrow money. Interest was piling up and children were being lost to pay debts. They began to cry out with the frustration of a difficult situation.
When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, ‘You are charging your own people interest!’ Nehemiah 5:6-7
Those Nehemiah accused remained silent. Isn’t that the way it goes when we are called out for our selfish ways?
There is usually little to say in return. This brings us to the question we must ask in the middle of restoring anything.
Who am I here for?
- I am here for me.
- I am NOT here for me.
The difference is like two hearts with no way of recognizing the beat of the other. It brings us to the simple, yet monumental command from Mark 12:31, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
God has called us to serve Him. When we have a heart of service, we stop focusing on ourselves and are able to love others as we should. It is easy to love ourselves. It is easy to look out for our own interests, but what about putting the needs of others first? If you have a heart that beats for others, restoration will look completely different.
Nehemiah’s leadership was courageous. He challenged the officials and nobles to give it all back and made them take an oath holding them to their promise. He called them out in front of God, saying ‘In this way may God shake out of their houses and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!’ Nehemiah 5:13 He knew that accountability was necessary.
We all face difficulties and situations that need restoration. The first step is asking God to join us in the rubble so that we can begin to restore what has been lost.
The question remains, what kind of heart will you have in the midst of restoration?