Friday, October 11
Scripture: Nehemiah 5-6, Psalm 146, Luke 24
Nehemiah 5:15 But the earlier governors—those preceding me—placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that.
Nehemiah 5:18 In spite of all this, I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people.
For 12 years, Nehemiah served as governor without taxing the people, laying a burden on them. Instead, he payed for his large expenses out of his own pocket (I assume that the king had given him an allowance). Even though others before him had taxed the people and he could have legitimately done so, he refused. It was a noble example of self-sacrifice and service by a leader.
Why did he do it? Two reasons are given in verses 15 and 18.
First, he acted out of reverence for God. His relationship with God wouldn’t allow him to dominate and take advantage of the very people he was called to serve.
Second, he acted out of concern for the people. The demands on the returned exiles were already heavy; because he cared for them, he didn’t want to add to their load.
Here is an example of the Great Commandment changing a leader’s behavior. Nehemiah selflessly served and sacrificed because he revered God and cared for people. Or said another way, because he loved God and loved people. Jesus said that when we love God with all we have and love people, we will fulfill all the law. Nehemiah led well and wisely because he loved God and loved people.
Keep it simple. Love God, love people—and you’ll live and lead well. Let these two things be the motivation for your behavior.
Prayer: Lord, my focus today will simply be to love you and love people, and to let those motivate my behavior. Make me a good example like Nehemiah.