Scripture reading for May 11th: Nehemiah 5-8:1
Wise and godly leaders stand firmly against injustice! Our sinful tendencies lead us relentlessly towards selfishness and taking advantage of those who are in need or in crisis or weak. They lead us to gaining an advantage for ourselves at the expense of another. Slavery in America is an example of these selfish and sinful tendencies. Slaves were bought and sold to build wealth for those they served. Slaves did jobs that their owners did not want to do themselves. Slaves were treated well by some and harshly and cruelly by others. Injustice in this system led some leaders to take action and a civil war resulted over this issue that cost the lives of many Americans and many who named the name of Christ on both sides of this issue.
Nehemiah faced injustice in his day among his own people. Taxes were high in Jerusalem and the Jews had to pay them to the Persian king. Their brothers who had money were loaning to these Jews who had no money. Mortgages were taken on the fields and vineyards and even their homes. Even sons and daughters were being sold into slavery because of the usury that was going on among the Israelites. An outcry because of this injustice reached Nehemiah and he pondered this problem of usury and the resulting enslavement. (Nehemiah 5:6-7) Calling a meeting of all those involved, he accused those with money of their sin, commanded them to stop these practices, and called them to walk in the fear of God! (Nehemiah 5:9-11) They publicly agreed to do so. He charged the priests and nobles to take an oath to do what they had promised in response to his accusation. He even shook out his own robe and prayed, “In this way may God shake out of his house and possessions every man who does not keep this promise. So may such a man be shaken out and emptied!” Nehemiah 5:13
God’s people must beware of injustice, even in their own house! Sin and selfishness can cause us to take advantage of others. We can abuse or neglect the poor and the weak. We must not manipulate or enslave others by our selfishness. Spiritual leaders and pastors must guard their hearts in how they encourage giving. Sometimes, manipulation and injustice takes place among God’s people through selfish leaders. Slavery today comes when our sons and daughters go into captivity because of injustice in God’s house among God’s people! Righteous leaders are watchful and take direct action when they know about it! Pray today for those in authority and let them know of any injustice among God’s people!