Handling Opposition Inside the Walls

Steve Viars May 20, 2018 Nehemiah 5:1-19
Outline

Genesis 14:14-16 - When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.

Nehemiah 2:18 - I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, “Let us arise and build.” So they put their hands to the good work.

James Montgomery Boice - “The distribution of material shows how important a leader’s approach to opposition is. To succeed at a task where there is no opposition requires only a technocrat, a task specialist, or a bean counter.  It takes a leader to succeed at other times.”

John White - “No test of leadership is more revealing than the test of opposition. Christian leaders can go to pieces under such pressure.  Some grow too discouraged to continue.  Others build walls around themselves and shoot murderously from behind them.  They become embattled, embittered and vindictive.  Not so Nehemiah.  Nowhere does his leadership shine more brilliantly than in his handling of opposition.”

Frank Tillapaugh – “What good was it to build the wall if inside the wall, there were people who were exploiting one another?”

Acts 20:28-30 - Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.

3 essentials to solving problems in a way that honors God

I. A Willingness to Confront Wrongdoing

A. Important historical background

1. Scripture tells us that King Cyrus, the man who allowed Ezra to return, had opened the treasury and contributed “the articles belonging to the temple of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:7, cf. II Chronicles 36:18, Daniel 1:1, 2)

2. Some of the Israelites who returned under Ezra were wealthy or at least had access to wealth

Ezra 1:11 - All the articles of gold and silver numbered 5,400. Sheshbazzar brought them all up with the exiles who went up from Babylon to Jerusalem.

3. Greed was one of the sins denounced before the Babylonian Captivity

cf. Isaiah 56:9-12, Jeremiah 22:13-19, Amos 2:6-7, 5:11-12

Jeremiah 22:13-17 - Woe to him who builds his house without righteousness and his upper rooms without justice, who uses his neighbor’s services without pay and does not give him his wages, Who says, “I will build myself a roomy house with spacious upper rooms, and cut out its windows, paneling it with cedar and painting it bright red.” Do you become a king because you are competing in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me?” Declares the Lord. But your eyes and your heart are intent only upon your own dishonest gain, and on shedding innocent blood and on practicing oppression and extortion.

4. The specific background issues here

a. Drought and famine - vs. 3

b. Taxes - vs. 4

c. High interest rates - vs. 5-6

5. Sequence of events

a. Hunger, lack of adequate food

b. Mortgaging of fields for short-term cash to pay taxes and buy grain

c. Loss of the fields because of an inability to repay what was borrowed

d. Selling of sons or daughters into indentured service or outright slavery for the sake of survival

Nehemiah 5:1 - Now there was a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers.

B. Characteristics of effective confrontation

1. Believing it is your privilege and responsibility

Romans 15:13-14 - Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.

2. Righteous anger

Nehemiah 5:6 - Then I was very angry when I had heard their outcry and these words.

Franky Schaeffer, A Time for Anger: The Myth of Neutrality - “There are times in which anyone with a shred of moral principle should be profoundly angry.  We live in such times.”

3. Self-control

Nehemiah 5:7 - …I consulted with myself…

James 1:19-20 - This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

4. Asking “What is Biblical?/What is Right?”

cf. Exodus 22:25, Leviticus 25:35-37, 39-41, Deuteronomy 23:19

Deuteronomy 23:19-20 - You shall not charge interest to your countrymen: interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest.  You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your countryman you shall not charge interest, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to possess.

Warren Wiersbe - “Nehemiah was not a politician who asked ‘What is popular?’ nor was he a diplomat who asked ‘What is safe?’ but a true leader who asked ‘What is right?’

5.  Appealing privately on the basis of godly love

Nehemiah 5:7 - And I consulted with myself, and contended with the nobles and the rulers and said to them, “You are exacting usury, each from his brother!” Therefore, I held a great assembly against them.

6.  Reminding the person(s) of God’s redemptive purpose

Nehemiah 5:8 - And I said to them, “We according to our ability have redeemed our Jewish brothers who were sold to the nations; now would you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us?” Then they were silent and could not find a word to say.

Warren Wiersbe - “God redeemed Israel from Egypt; and more recently, He had redeemed them from captivity in Babylon.  But this verse informs us that Nehemiah and others of the leading Jews had helped redeem some of their people, and now their fellow Jews were putting people into bondage just to make money.  These selfish money lenders were tearing down everything that God and Nehemiah were trying to build up.”

7. Pointing to our witness to those who do not yet know the Lord

Nehemiah 5:9 - Again I said, “The thing which you are doing is not good; should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies?”

8. With a focus on the coming judgment of the Lord

Nehemiah 5:13 - I also shook out the front of my garment and said, “Thus may God shake out every man from his house and from his possessions who does not fulfill this promise; even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said, “Amen!” And they praised the LORD. Then the people did according to this promise.

II. A Willingness to Listen to Confrontation

A. Be silent

Nehemiah 5:8 - …Then they were silent and could not find a word to say.

Proverbs 25:12 - Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.

B. Determine to discontinue whatever it is that is displeasing to God

Nehemiah 5:10 - …let us leave off this usury.

Ephesians 4:22 - …that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit…

C. Make specific plans to correct the situation as quickly as possible

Nehemiah 5:11 - Please, give back to them this very day their fields...

Chuck Swindoll – “When God shows his people a particular sin that we are guilty of, He doesn't tell us to take our time dealing with it.  No, He says, ‘Deal with it now.’ When we realize we are doing wrong, now is the time to stop it.  Making long range plans to correct a problem allows the sands of time to hone off the raw edges of God’s reproof in our lives.  We end up tolerating that sin and maybe even protecting it.  Such laxity greatly concerns our Lord.  A prompt and thorough dealing with wrong in our lives is essential.”

D. Declare your plans for correction in promise before God

Nehemiah 5:12 - Then they said, “We will give it back and will require nothing from them; we will do exactly as you say.” So I called the priests and took an oath from them that they would do according to this promise.

E. Rejoice in this step of spiritual growth and then follow through on your vow to the Lord

Nehemiah 5:13 - …And all the assembly said, “Amen!” And they praised the Lord. Then the people did according to this promise.

III. A Commitment to Living as a Godly Example

A. He sometimes chose not to receive even legitimate benefits

Nehemiah 5:14 - …for twelve years, neither I nor my kinsmen have eaten the governor’s food allowance.

B. He didn’t abuse his position because of his fear of the Lord

Nehemiah 5:15 - But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people and took from them bread and wine besides forty shekels of silver; even their servants domineered the people. But I did not do so because of the fear of God.

Proverbs 1:7 - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

C. He busied himself serving and accomplishing the mission

Nehemiah 5:16 - I also applied myself to the work on this wall…

D. He chose not to get sidetracked

Nehemiah 5:16 - …we did not buy any land…

E. He instructed “his staff” to serve and work

Nehemiah 5:16 - …all my servants were gathered there for the work.

F. He cared for the material needs of others

Nehemiah 5:17-18 - Moreover, there were at my table one hundred and fifty Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us…Yet for all this I did not demand the governor’s food allowance, because the servitude was heavy on this people.

- one of the intriguing features in Scripture is the amount of space/material that is devoted to various topics…

- for example, in the book of Genesis—Abraham wins a spectacular battle—we call it the battle of the kings in the book of Genesis …but this is all we read--Genesis 14:14–16 - When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.    He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.

- that leaves us with 1000 questions…especially – how in the world did Abraham win such an incredible battle with 318 men?...but all of that goes unanswered…

- in fact it’s possible this wouldn’t even be included in the Bible were it not for the involvement of his nephew Lot…and also how a priest appears a few verses later---seemingly out of nowhere…to whom Abraham gives a tenth of the entire spoil of the battle…[do you remember his name – Melchizedek]…and then he disappears until one mention in the book of Psalms and nothing again until the NT book of Hebrews [where he’s discussed 8 times in that book as if he was a prominent OT character]…

- but the point is – this major battle of the kings receives a few verses worth of attention in the book of Genesis – but compare that to the story of the fourth patriarch of Israel – who was that?...a man named Joseph – whose story spans 13 chapters of a 50 chapter book…

- apparently the Lord believes that people like you and me understanding how God works in and through trials in the lives of individuals like Joseph is more important that details about military strategy…

- we see the same thing in the gospels…it’s incredible how much we do not know about the life of Jesus Christ – especially the thirty years prior to his public ministry…but what do we know a lot about?...his death, burial, and resurrection…

- in fact, one Bible teacher famously described the Gospel of Mark as a passion narrative with an extended introduction…

- in other words – the book is really about the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ…everything else is just a relatively brief introduction to that central event…

- and we would all say – while it might be interesting to know more details about Jesus’ early life just to satisfy some of our curiosity…we’re very glad for the wealth of information we have about what is central to our faith – the gospel – the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ…

- that same principle is true in the book of Nehemiah…

- we had one chapter devoted to Nehemiah learning about the problem that the walls and the city 

- then chapter 2 explained his conversation with the king, his 1000 mile trip to Jerusalem, his night-time inspection of the walls, and his challenge to the people…bam, bam, bam…Nehemiah 2:18 - I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, “Let us arise and build.” So they put their hands to the good work.

- it’s amazing how quickly this story is moving…

- then you get to chapter 3…which feels like an almost endless list of long and unusual sounding names…

- and you step back and are amazed at the distribution of material…

- because we might want to know more about the trip to Jerusalem…or that pit-stop at the king’s forests…or how some of those interactions with the governors of the various provinces went…crickets…all of that is completely skipped…

- then we get – Eliashib, the men of Jericho, Zaccur the son of Imri [would anyone like to read that list again?]…

- there’s a very important lesson there…

- but what happens next?...and this is our point for this am…3 full chapters about overcoming opposition…

- that’s an important aspect of Becoming a Godly Leader

- James Montgomery Boice added: "The distribution of material shows how important a leader's approach to opposition is. To succeed at a task where there is no opposition requires only a technocrat, a task specialist, or a bean counter.  It takes a leader to succeed at other times."

- John White said: "No test of leadership is more revealing than the test of opposition. Christian leaders cab go to pieces under such pressure.  Some grow too discouraged to continue.  Others build walls around themselves and shoot murderously from behind them.  They become embattled, embittered and vindictive.  Not so Nehemiah.  Nowhere does his leadership shine more brilliantly than in his handling of opposition."

- so, 3 full chapters in this book dealing with opposition…

- beginning in chapter 4 about opposition from without…Sanballat and Tobiah…

- and the opposition was both ridicule and intimidation…and it’s an incredible lesson on how the Lord strengthens His people to face treatment for His eternal glory and their spiritual good…

- however in chapter 5 it gets even more personal…because now we’re talking about Handling Opposition Inside the Walls

- Nehemiah becomes aware of his own people mistreating those among them who were poor…and although time is of the essence on this project…it comes to a screeching halt…because as Pastor Frank Tillapaugh helpfully observed – What good was it to build the wall if inside the wall, there were people who were exploiting one another?

- that’s a really good question…

- please open your Bible now to Nehemiah chapter 5…page 355 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- in whatever way you’re involved in leadership – you know one of the significant challenges is knowing what to do when someone you’re responsible to lead is living in a way that is displeasing to God…

- you face that as a parent…you face that in marriage…you face that at work…in all sorts of social settings…we certainly face it as a church…

- in fact, you may have already been thinking of this passage in the NT because the parallel between this and our section of the book of Nehemiah is amazing…Acts 20:28–30 - Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.

- so how do you… Handling Opposition Inside the Walls…

- let’s listen in to what happened…read Nehemiah 5:1-19…

- so Handling Opposition Inside the Walls – let’s organize the rest of our time around finding 3 essentials to solving problems in a way that honors God

I. A Willingness to Confront Wrongdoing

- now in order to understand what is going on here…we need some quick but…

A. Important historical background

1. Scripture tells us that King Cyrus, the man who allowed Ezra to return, had opened the treasury and contributed "the articles belonging to the temple of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem" (Ezra 1:7, cf. II Chron. 36:18, Daniel 1:1, 2).

- so this would have been sometime before the situation we have before us today…but this means that…

2. Some of the Israelites who returned under Ezra were wealthy or at least had access to wealth.

- Ezra 1:11 - All the articles of gold and silver numbered 5,400. Sheshbazzar brought them all up with the exiles who went up from Babylon to Jerusalem.

- so, there was access to wealth…and by the way – for most of us, compared to the conditions of many in our world…we’re fairly wealthy…

- when’s the last time you or I missed a meal because of hunger?

- or, how many pairs of shoes do you have to choose from this am…

- and I’m not saying we have money stacked up and we don’t even know what to do with it…but this may be one of the best definition of wealth in this country these days – how long would it be if your television went out before you had a new one?...and how likely is it that the new one would be bigger than the older one?...

- and to be clear – there is nothing inherently wrong with that…

- the NT says God gives us such gifts richly to enjoy…

- money is not the root of all evil…the love of money is the root of all evil…

- and you can tell the difference by what you and I do with the resources God has entrusted to us…

3. Greed was one of the sins denounced before the Babylonian Captivity.

- why did God allow this to happen to Jerusalem 150 years before to begin with?

- one large answer was the greed and idolatry of his people…

- cf. Isa. 56:9-12, Jer. 22:13-19, Amos 2:6-7, 5:11-12

- for sake of time – here’s just a portion of one of those passages…written to one of Israel’s kings…Jeremiah 22:13–17 - Woe to him who builds his house without righteousness and his upper rooms without justice, who uses his neighbor’s services without pay and does not give him his wages, Who says, “I will build myself a roomy house with spacious upper rooms, and cut out its windows, paneling it with cedar and painting it bright red.” Do you become a king because you are competing in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me?” Declares the Lord. But your eyes and your heart are intent only upon your own dishonest gain, and on shedding innocent blood and on practicing oppression and extortion.

- so the conditions that Nehemiah has uncovered is exactly what led to their destruction and captivity before…it déjà vu all over again…

4. The specific background issues here

a. Draught and famine - vs. 3

b. Taxes - vs. 4

c. High interest rates - vs. 5-6

- Most Bible students agree that it’s the last component; the high interest rates charged by brothers, is what is really causing the problem.

5. Sequence of events.

a. Hunger, lack of adequate food

b. Mortgaging of fields for short-term cash to pay taxes and buy grain.

c. Loss of the fields because of an inability to repay what was borrowed.

d. Selling of sons or daughters into indentured service or outright slavery for the sake of survival.

- so that’s the point – people who had access to wealth were taking advantage of their own brothers and sisters

- that’s why we have verse 1 – Nehemiah 5:1 - Now there was a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers.

- Now when you think about this situation, is there any question that what's needed right now is godly leadership?

- and I would encourage you to think about this question – what do you do when you become aware of this kind of behavior that does not please the Lord?...

- and the answer has to be – whether we like it or not – a willingness to confront…

B. Characteristics of effective confrontation

1. Believing it is your privilege and responsibility

- Paul made a fascinating statement to the followers of Jesus Christ at the church in Rome…

- Romans 15:13–14 - Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.

- now, this may be one of those – “do we really believe Jesus is the Lord” moments…along with – “do we really believe Jesus stands ready to give us strength, grace, and wisdom to do hard things” moments…

- [apply to Mother’s Day]…

2. Righteous anger

- Nehemiah 5:6 - Then I was very angry when I had heard their outcry and these words.

- and he should have been -- This injustice makes him angry.

- Franky Schaeffer (Francis Schaeffer's son) wrote a book entitled "A Time for Anger: The Myth of Neutrality." -- "There are times in which anyone with a shred of moral principle should be profoundly angry.  We live in such times."

- now, that needs to be balanced in all sorts of ways…but you can’t be a godly leader if unbiblical living on the part of people who say they know the Lord doesn’t move you to action…

3. Self-control.

              - v. 7 - "I consulted with myself"

- this is the balance -- James 1:19–20 - This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

4. Asking "What is Biblical? / What is Right?"

- cf. Exodus 22:25, Lev. 25:35-37, 39-41, Deut. 23:19

- Deut. 23:19-20 - You shall not charge interest to your countrymen: interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest.  You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your countryman you shall not charge interest, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to possess.

- now – this was a principle for the nation of Israel at that time…the point isn’t that if you loan your money today and earn interest, that is wrong…

- and before you say – I never do that – of course you do – we all do…if we even a dollar in the bank, or any kind of retirement account…that money is in turn loaned or invested to make interest…

- the issue here was they were specifically forbidden to do that with their countrymen – and what was motivating their behavior was selfishness and a willingness to exploit the poor and powerless, not to love and serve them…

- and Nehemiah took it on -- Warren Wiersbe said, "Nehemiah was not a politician who asked `What is popular?' nor was he a diplomat who asked `What is safe?' but a true leader who asked `What is right?'

5.  Appealing privately on the basis of godly love

- Nehemiah 5:7 - And I consulted with myself, and contended with the nobles and the rulers and said to them, "You are exacting usury, each from his brother!" Therefore, I held a great assembly against them.

- it wasn’t just condemnation – it was an attempt to help them correct their errant thinking…and then…

6.  Reminding the person(s) of God's redemptive purpose

- Nehemiah 5:8 - And I said to them, "We according to our ability have redeemed our Jewish brothers who were sold to the nations; now would you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us?" Then they were silent and could not find a word to say.

- you’re placing your selfish love of money above what God is seeking to do in and through them…and in and through you…your material bounty is s stewardship…a trust from the Lord…

Warren Wiersbe - "God redeemed Israel from Egypt; and more recently, He had redeemed them from captivity in Babylon.  But this verse informs us that Nehemiah and others of the leading Jews had helped redeem some of their people, and now their fellow Jews were putting people into bondage just to make money.  These selfish money lenders were tearing down everything that God and Nehemiah were trying to build up"

- and then…

7. Pointing to our witness to those who do not yet know the Lord

- Nehemiah 5:9 - Again I said, "The thing which you are doing is not good; should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies?

- the way we treat those who are struggling or have fewer material possessions will scream a message to those outside the family of God…and then…

8. With a focus on the coming judgment of the Lord

- Nehemiah 5:13 - I also shook out the front of my garment and said, "Thus may God shake out every man from his house and from his possessions who does not fulfill this promise; even thus may he be shaken out and emptied." And all the assembly said, "Amen!" And they praised the LORD. Then the people did according to this promise.

- part of leadership is helping others be best prepared to give a good account at the judgment seat of Christ…even if there’s the short-term pain of repentance and change…

- and I would ask you to consider these principles from the perspective of the leadership positions in which you find yourself…have you been willing to exercise godly leadership even when the opposition is inside the walls?...

- [Mother’s Day – thank the Lord for mothers who are willing to lovingly confront their children for God’s glory and their spiritual good…]

- [develop the gospel]…

II. A Willingness to Listen to Confrontation

A. Be silent.

- Nehemiah 5:8 - …Then they were silent and could not find a word to say.

- Can I ask you to think about this subject from the other perspective now?...what about when somebody is responsible to lead you?...

- can they count on your reflective silence…or is it always another argument and defensive posturing?...

- Proverbs 25:12 - Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.

B. Determine to discontinue whatever it is that is displeasing to God.

- verse 10 - Let us leave off this usury.

- that sounds a lot like putting off and putting on, doesn’t it?...

- Ephesians 4:22 - that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,

- can you think of a time where a leader confronted you about something…and this was your response?...

C. Make specific plans to correct the situation as quickly as possible.

- verse 11 - Please, give back to them this very day their fields...

- Chuck Swindoll - "When God shows his people a particular sin that we are guilty of, He doesn't tell us to take our time dealing with it.  No, He says, `Deal with it now.' When we realize we are doing wrong, now is the time to stop it.  Making long range plans to correct a problem allows the sands of time to hone off the raw edges of God's reproof in our lives.  We end up tolerating that sin and maybe even protecting it.  Such laxity greatly concerns our Lord.  A prompt and thorough dealing with wrong in our lives is essential."

D. Declare your plans for correction in  promise before God.

Nehemiah 5:12 - Then they said, “We will give it back and will require nothing from them; we will do exactly as you say.” So I called the priests and took an oath from them that they would do according to this promise.

E. Rejoice in this step of spiritual growth and then follow through on your vow to the Lord.

- Nehemiah 5:13 - …And all the assembly said, “Amen!” And they praised the Lord. Then the people did according to this promise.

- so if the question is – can the Lord glorify Himself by allowing problems to arise within the family or the church family or some other group of followers of Christ…and then for that problem to be solved biblical by a leader willing to confront…and a follower willing to repent and change…

- the answer from this passage is – absolutely…

- and the corresponding questions are:

- in situations where we’re called to lead – are we willing to step up and do what the Lord has called upon us to do?...

- and in situations where we’re being confronted – are we handling that in a way that honors the Lord?...

- now, what’s the third essential to solving problems in a way that honors the Lord?...

III. A Commitment to Living as a Godly Example

- the remainder of these verses talk about how Nehemiah already, by God’s grace, been living this way in regards to his own material possessions…

- he wasn’t one of those – do as I say but not as I do kind of leaders…

A. He sometimes chose not to receive even legitimate benefits

- Nehemiah 5:14 - …for twelve years, neither I nor my kinsmen have eaten the governor’s food allowance.

- he voluntarily enslaved his liberties in order to maximize his ministry…

B. He didn’t abuse his position because of his fear of the Lord

- Nehemiah 5:15 - But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people and took from them bread and wine besides forty shekels of silver; even their servants domineered the people. But I did not do so because of the fear of God.

- Proverbs 1:7 - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

C. He busied himself serving and accomplishing the mission.

- Nehemiah 5:16 - I also applied myself to the work on this wall…

- so he wasn’t asking anyone else to do something he wasn’t willing to do…

D. He chose not to get sidetracked.

- Nehemiah 5:16 - we did not buy any land…

- he and the other wealthy people could have made a real estate killing here…but he wasn’t going to be like the rich fool in the gospel of Luke who amassed wealth and built bigger and bigger barns while ignoring the condition of his soul…

E. He instructed “his staff” to serve and work

- Nehemiah 5:16 - …all my servants were gathered there for the work.

F. He cared for the material needs of others

- Nehemiah 5:17–18 - Moreover, there were at my table one hundred and fifty Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us…Yet for all this I did not demand the governor’s food allowance, because the servitude was heavy on this people.

- one of the reasons he was able to confront this issue when it came up was because of the godly way he had already been living…

- what are some additional takeaways for people like you and me?

1. I’d like to thank the parents who are allowing your teenagers serve in our 8 neighborhood VBS’ this summer…we don’t exploit others, we love them….

2. The same is true for the group of teens heading for Albania

3. We just received an invitation next year to send a team to host a series of VBS’ in Cuba

4. I would also encourage you to consider hosting one of the children from the orphanage in the Dominican Republic

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video