September 4

Nehemiah 5:8-10 8and said: "As far as possible, we have bought back our Jewish brothers who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your brothers, only for them to be sold back to us!" They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say. 9So I continued, "What you are doing is not right. Shouldn't you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies? 10I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let the exacting of usury stop!

During the time they were building the wall, some of the people came to Nehemiah and told him of their financial hardships. There had been a famine, and they had borrowed grain from their brothers. Those who loaned the grain were charging 1% interest, and in some cases, buying the sons and daughters of those in hardship as slaves. The people were giving up their fields to those to whom they owed the money, and that meant they could never repay and would only get deeper in debt.

When Nehemiah heard this, he was angry. This is the anger of righteous indignation. They had bought back their people who were slaves to Gentiles to try and restore the nation, and now they were enslaving each other. Nehemiah asked them if what they have done was done in the fear of a just and righteous God. If not, then their Gentile neighbors could reproach them for their double standard. They were already being mocked for doing good. Why would they give them a chance to mock them for acts of hypocrisy? Nehemiah told them, "Lend freely, but don't charge interest, and restore what you have taken from them!" The people agreed to do what was right.

This a message that needs to be declared today. The church should be known for its generosity to those in need. We need to set a standard for the world. Instead we often hear of the greedy Christian businessman who was a poor testimony. The unbelieving world reproaches us for not acting in the fear of God. If you are claiming to be a Christian and being unjust in your dealings with other Christians, you should restore what was taken unjustly. If your brother wrongs you, follow Matthew 18, but do not take your story to the world.

Consider: If we do not walk in the fear of God, why would the world want to hear our message?