We are a nation and a world desperate for men and women of God to lead. Today you begin or continue that journey. As Joshua directed the people of Israel I also direct you, “Choose this day who you will serve.” As leaders in this modern world we can be tempted to follow the latest fad or chase after money, fame or power. Will you serve those idols or will you choose to serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?
Read Nehemiah chapter 5
The theme of chapter 5 is Clean up your own yard and care for the poor
For too many leaders, their testimony is destroyed by sin or a failure to address sin. Think of Eli from the 1Samuel. He failed to address the sin of his sons and so was discredited in God’s eyes. Others in our modern world have chosen sin of all sorts over faithfully serving the Kingdom of God. What leads to such treachery and rebellion among God’s leaders? Greed, selfishness, lust, covetousness among others are the main suspects. But ultimately it is fear that causes us to turn to these idols instead of trusting in the one sovereign God. As a Spiritual leaders we must routinely clean up our own yard before we hope to reach our hands and hearts out to the lost and lead them to the hope and salvation that comes from God.
Nehemiah 5: 1-5
Poverty is pain and constant fear. Often times the behaviors we see among those in poverty are reactions to threats and oppression. Look around at your community. Consider those that are in the poor neighborhoods. Do they count? Does it ever strike you as odd that in most communities that the roads are in the worst state of repair in the poor neighborhoods? In those communities where certain seasons require snow plows these poor neighborhoods are the last to be plowed? Why should this matter to us the middle class church?
We should care because God cares. Over 300 times in the Old Testament alone our Heavenly Father points us to care for the poor. He gives instructions to help them. (Most of them ignored by modern day churches and homeless advocates by the way.)
Because we are community leaders, we should care because these are among the people we are called to serve. If I am in city or county government and I ensure that the streets are well paved in the wealthy neighborhoods, they can repay me with campaign donations or influential friendship. In other words they can repay me in a manner of speaking. Nothing is necessarily wrong with that. But real blessing happens when we help out those who have no way of repaying us. Care about the poor and invite them into the solution to our community problems. This is a justice issue.
He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
There was a man. If you would have met him many months ago you would have seen that he was very wealthy with a vibrant and growing business. His health was unmistakable. His children were well cared for and loved. But today he is living in a garbage dump. He has lesions all over his body and is obviously ill. All of his children have died in enemy attacks and vicious storms. All that he has left is an angry, bitter and nagging wife. I take that back he also has four friends that have come to him to comfort him in this time of distress.
After a time of silence and simply being present these friends begin to look for reasons why this man has suffered so much agony over the past several months. Their answer come down to that the man has sin in his life. All he needs to do is repent and make better choices and all will be restored to him. The man is to blame. While they don’t bring this up but they could have attacked society that allowed for building codes that allowed a heavy storm to destroy the houses of his children. Maybe it is the health care system that has failed him or even the armed forces that should have protected him from the enemy raiders. Society is to blame. For those that know the story, God is to blame. Well at least God allows it in order to show that this man will be faithful to God even if he loses everything. God is to blame.
When we deal with those in poverty those three areas are often debated and discussed as causes of poverty. Choice, society and God. As a Spiritual leader you can and should address all three.
Recognize in all of this that sometimes what we call help is actually the cause of creating the poverty mindset. Take a look at these verses in Nehemiah and notice that some of the same causes are part of our world today. Money lenders, heavy taxes, loss of land, famine and slavery all add to and create the pain of poverty.
The point is that as a Spiritual leader examine the issues, explore the solutions and do something.