We live in a self-obsessed world, where our own selfish needs and desires are central to the decisions we make.
A commonly used phrase would be ‘me first’ or ‘look after number one’, and reinforced by encouraging comments such as ‘you do you’ or ‘look after yourself’.
It all seems a lovely and kind approach. But as we have already seen, the message of Jesus was all about others and how we care for others before looking after our own needs.
Nehemiah was in a position of authority and power as the governor of Judah. A precedent had been set by those who had held the role before him, demanding food and silver (v15) be provided regularly.
But Nehemiah chose a different approach. He did not want to take from those who had little. He wanted to be a producer and not a consumer.
That simple act would have changed the culture of the community he was serving. When leaders rule with kindness and compassion it ripples out; when leaders rule with aggression and wield power, that also cascades from the highest point.
How we treat those closest to us has a far wider impact. A positive influencer creates the habit of giving not taking.
Celebrities who always want something in return get found out. Are you a producer or a consumer? Do you think ‘what is in this for me?’ or ‘how can I help make this better for others?’
A Prayer To Make:
‘Lord, thank You for the example of Nehemiah, who did not take what others before him did, but lived differently. Help me to live for You and for others before myself. Amen.’
An Action To Take:
Spend the day looking for opportunities to serve others. At the end of the day, write down how you were able to offer help and reflect on the times when you put your needs first.
Scripture To Consider:
Exod. 5:1–18; 1 Kgs 12:1–15; Matt. 20:20–28; Acts 20:32–34