PASSION FOR GOD’S HONOR
Lord, I am a mixture: compromised but committed, confused but faithful, anxious but devoted to You. Use me in spite of myself.
Read NEHEMIAH 13:1–31
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God” (Rom. 12:2, The Message). Timely words.
“If you think it doesn’t matter just this once, it does.” I visualize the hygienist’s solicitous face every night I am tempted not to floss. Oral negligence or laziness can so easily lead to decay, disease and, astonishingly, even death (from heart attack or stroke, I am told, such is the power of rotten teeth)!
As Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem, following time back in Persia, he responds with harsh words and immediate action to the moral and spiritual corrosion that has crept up on God’s people. In his absence, they have once again broken their covenant promises outlined in 10:28–39. It may all have begun undetectably, with compromises made in the Temple, in the marketplace, in families. The storehouse for the Temple staff’s food supplies is empty; the room is given to an opponent of Nehemiah. Its ministers are left unsupported and its leaders are disobedient, so God’s praise and teaching become marginalized. Worship and witness and rest and care for others are overridden by materialism. Families are no longer united in exclusive reverence to Yahweh, with marriages out of the faith and children raised unfamiliar with the language of the Torah.
If Nehemiah appears confrontational and adamant, it is because he recognizes the fatal danger of accommodation of God’s enemies and inattention to his covenant. Not only does he challenge and curse those primarily responsible, but he also takes drastic action to prevent the situation from continuing. Expelling an imposter and fumigating a holy room, shutting gates and pulling hair all demonstrate his enduring passion for God’s honor long after the walls are rebuilt. With realistic far-sightedness, he appoints people of integrity and skill to safeguard his reforms. Finally and true to form, he prayerfully commits his actions and his heart to God.
Read verse 31b again. How would you like God to remember you?
Holy Spirit, press in on me with an awareness of changes I need to make in my life. Change me from the inside out.
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