Nehemiah faced opposition from both outside Jerusalem (Neh. 4) and inside Jerusalem (Neh. 5).
The foreign oppressors, Sanballat and Tobiah, hurled insults and threats toward Jerusalem… Why? They hungered for power and lusted for control. Whereas the people within the walls were opposing each other as the Jewish nobles were oppressing their own poor. The rich were taking advantage of the fact that everyone was working on the walls and not cultivating their land. Without a crop, there was no money – so the rich nobles were lending money to the farmers and charging interest.
Greed. Nehemiah was fighting the effects of greed – both from the foreigners and within the Jewish community. As we read in today’s passages, Nehemiah fought it effectively. Through his fine leadership, he refused to give power to the oppressor’s taunts and persuaded the nobles to return the interest charged and land to the Jewish peasants. He motivated them by exhorting them to fear the God that brought them out of slavery!
Greed is a powerful sin. It builds deep roots in our hearts and works together with fear to seduce and deceive.
Consider Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 9. Paul is continuing his request from Chapter 8…that the church give generously to their needy brothers in Jerusalem. But there is great potential to twist these verses to satisfy the greed in our hearts. Consider verses 6 & 10…
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully (2 Cor. 9:6).
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness (2 Cor. 9:10).
Many have used these verses to teach, “If you give abundantly, then God will ‘multiply’ and give to you abundantly.” But that is using greed as a motivator for giving. NO! These verses only promise to multiply our righteousness, not our wallets!
It is true that “God loves a cheerful giver.” But the cheer that pleases God is from your willingness to give sacrificially – not from your expectation to receive in return!
For our God owns a cattle on a thousand hills. He has no need for our money! But he does want our hearts. And so many times, our hearts are entangled with the sin of love of money.
If God has generously provided for you abundantly – it is not for your security’s sake – but that you might emulate Him in providing for others. For God “has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever” (2 Cor. 9:9).
He is our loving Father. We can trust Him – even with our money!
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work (2 Cor. 9:8).