Today's 90 day NT challenge Mark 6-8.
Today our devotional thought is from the book of Nehemiah.
Nehemiah 5: 1 Now there arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers. 2 For there were those who said, “With our sons and our daughters, we are many. So let us get grain, that we may eat and keep alive.” 3 There were also those who said, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses to get grain because of the famine.” 4 And there were those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king's tax on our fields and our vineyards. 5 Now our flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children are as their children. Yet we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but it is not in our power to help it, for other men have our fields and our vineyards.” 6 I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. 7 I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them, “You are exacting interest, each from his brother.” And I held a great assembly against them 8 and said to them, “We, as far as we are able, have bought back our Jewish brothers who have been sold to the nations, but you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us!” They were silent and could not find a word to say. 9 So I said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies? 10 Moreover, I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us abandon this exacting of interest. 11 Return to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their houses, and the percentage of money, grain, wine, and oil that you have been exacting from them.” 12 Then they said, “We will restore these and require nothing from them. We will do as you say.” And I called the priests and made them swear to do as they had promised. 13 I also shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not keep this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said “Amen” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised. 14 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
I love this passage where Nehemiah shows great concern for the people who are being oppressed by their fellow Israelites. The issue here was not what the law said, the nobles had rights too, it was about the focus of the people. The people of Israel were more focused on gaining wealth and adding to their land and they were blinded to the lives of the people that were being destroyed. We have to ask ourselves when we have rights to something or there is a law or policy that enables us to demand something.... Why are we demanding it? Do we need it? Is it going to effect the lives of the people we are demanding it from? Will it drastically affect your life if you don't require it? Probably in most cases we, who are on the upper hand, will be fine and it will not make much difference in our life circumstances if we don't require it. Whereas those we free from that payment or debt or requirement will be drastically affected and their life's story and journey will be altered because of it. We have to look past the initial benefits of taking what is rightfully ours or demanding something that paper or law says we have access to and ask ourselves, do we have faith to believe that God will reward us exceedingly above all we can hope or imagine if we defend and uphold the poor and oppressed and be apart of pulling them out of be hole they are in? Let us not have a hard stony heart and say, " they need to learn a lesson" or "they dug their own hole they can dig themselves out". Let us be that gracious hand extended, that hand of mercy, and rescue people out oftheir oppressive state of poverty and allows them to experience freedom and joy. Then we will reproduce a generation where people are not fighting to get ahead and oppressing others to gain wealth but we will create a culture where helping others and putting the needs of others before our own. This approach in life brings true wealth, honor and riches. We gain respect and loyalty of many and these many will come to your aid in your time of need....! PC