When the enemy fails in his attacks from the outside, he then begins to attack from within; and one of his favorite weapons is selfishness. If he can get us thinking only about ourselves and what we want, then he will win the victory before we realize that he is even at work. Selfishness means putting myself at the center of everything and insisting on getting what I want when I want it. It means exploiting others so I can be happy and taking advantage of them just so I can have my own way. It is not only wanting my own way but expecting everybody else to want my way too.
Bible Study – Nehemiah 5:1-19
1. What do you think when someone begs you for a handout on the streets of a big city?
2. A great outcry was raised by the people working on the wall. What were the three complaints that they had? (5:2-5)
3. How does Nehemiah react to the cries for justice? Why does he get so angry with the nobles and officials? (5:6-8)
4. How would our society view the claims of the poor in the text? What seems to be important to God that is not always important to us?
5. God had redeemed the people and brought them back to Palestine. How had the rich undone what God in His grace had given? (5:8)
6. How does Nehemiah say this financial crisis looks to the Gentiles around them? (5:9) How did their actions affect how the nations would see the Lord?
7. In financial matters, should we deal with a Christian differently than a non-Christian?
8. What had Nehemiah’s practice been and what did he demand of the rulers and the wealthy? (5:10-11)
9. How did Nehemiah and the people show that this was a spiritual problem that they were giving the Lord and not just a political problem (5:13)
10 How had Nehemiah been an example in this area for the people? (5:14-18)
11. What “reward” did Nehemiah expect from all the good things that He had done? (5:19) What does his example tell us about leadership?
Lessons on dealing with conflict from Neh. 5.
Godly leaders don’t ignore problems v. 6 When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. It is easy to know about problems and let them fester. Nehemiah took the problem head on even though the people he had to address were the leaders that he needed to help with the project. Good leaders do not ignore problems, but seek to resolve them no matter what the cost.
Godly leaders are patient and think before they act v.7 I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. One of the reasons conflicts are not resolved is because people react too quickly. Nehemiah took time to think about the situation and may have asked others about it as well. The wise person thinks before they act rather than jumping on the problem with their emotions.
Godly leaders approach people one on one v.7 Nehemiah 5:7 I told them, "You are exacting usury from your own countrymen!" So I called together a large meeting to deal with them. Often we are tempted to complain about others to the whole group not the individual. By talking to the people directly, he was able to remind them of what God’s will from scripture was. The people needed to realize they were opposing God and not just Nehemiah.
Godly leaders set a good example v.10 I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let the exacting of usury stop! Nehemiah and his brothers were lending money, but were not trying to get rich by doing so. They were helping others rather than using them. If we are going to resolve conflict, we must practice what we preach.
Godly leaders demand accountability v. 12 "We will give it back," they said. "And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say." Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath to do what they had promised. People will do what they say if you make them be specific about what they agree to and if you let them know you will check up on them. The priests were set up as the accountability people.. Accountability can be the key to success.