This week, we begin with reading Nehemiah Chapter 5.
1-5 Greed had infiltrated the people. Those who had, took more from those who didn’t. They seemed to take advantage of those in need.
Reminds me of the Pay Day Loan shops we used to see in every other building outside of every military installation we ever lived. They were like circling sharks, ready to ‘earn’ off the backs of those in need.
Nehemiah was horrified to hear this was happening. He was angry as he heard the people’s outcry over their loss and oppression.
I can’t help but wonder how he missed this, how he couldn’t see what was right in front of him. Sometimes we don’t “see” what we don’t “want” to see. That’s hard to admit, isn’t it? We don’t want to see the suffering that is going on right in our midst, so we choose to look the other way until it’s someone we know, until we are forced to see it.
Give it all back
6-13 Once Nehemiah hears and sees all of this he works to correct it. He calls out those who took advantage of the situation and tells them to give it all back! He reminds them they are all one family. He tells them to help one another without expectation of something in return.
Without expectation of anything in return. Those were my words. My bible, an NRSV, said, “We will demand… nothing more from them.” That’s hard sometimes, isn’t it? We like thank yous and kudos. We don’t think we should give to strangers, who are still our brothers and sisters in Christ, without knowing what they are going do with it. We don’t want them to use it in an unworthy way, so there are expectations or demands attached when we do give. It’s hard to give without expectations of some sort.
All One Family
14- 19 Nehemiah shared what he had with the people. He did so because he “feared” the Lord. He loved the Lord and lived for Him. Nehemiah knew that he was to care for God’s people not set himself apart from them as deserving more. He worked side by side with the people. He didn’t want to burden the people more. He could have! As governor, he could have demanded food or interest, but didn’t. The people were already struggling and he didn’t want to burden them even more.
Does this happen today? Do those who have, take more than needed from those don’t have? How are we as a society putting the almighty dollar ahead of people and their lively hood? How are we as a society keeping the poor, poor, the sick, sick, the oppressed, oppressed? Do we look the other way so that we don’t have to see it? How is this living in community the way Jesus and his disciples taught us? How is this loving neighbor as ourselves?
Nehemiah knew his good works would be repaid in heaven.
“Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.”
Now, it’s time to share your thoughts on the reading. Please leave a comment in the comment section below. You might have to scroll a bit to find it, but I’d love to learn with you!