THE SECRET OF LIFE IS IN GIVING IT AWAY

THE SECRET OF LIFE IS IN GIVING IT AWAY

Nehemiah 5:1-8   1And there was a great outcry of the people and their wives against their Jewish brethren. 2 For there were those who said, “We, our sons, and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain, that we may eat and live.” 3 There were also some who said, “We have mortgaged our lands and vineyards and houses, that we might buy grain because of the famine.” 4 There were also those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our lands and vineyards. 5 Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children; and indeed we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have been brought into slavery. It is not in our power to redeem them, for other men have our lands and vineyards.” 6 And I became very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. 7 After serious thought, I rebuked the nobles and rulers, and said to them, “Each of you is exacting usury from his brother.” So I called a great assembly against them. 8 And I said to them, “According to our ability we have redeemed our Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations. Now indeed, will you even sell your brethren? Or should they be sold to us?” Then they were silenced and found nothing to say.

Overall Background:  Ever since Nehemiah came to help the Jewish people, he had to face trouble. First it came from the likes of Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem. These three did everything they could to stop the project. They ridiculed him; they laughed at the builders; they threatened to attack Jerusalem and kill them. But Nehemiah did not give up. Every step of the way he prayed to God and encouraged the people to stay on the task. He reminded them that God would fight for them and the people continued rebuilding the wall.

But trouble came again. This time it came not from the outside but from the inside. Listen to verse 1 And there was a great outcry of the people and their wives against their Jewish brethren.” Meaning: This time the problem was not the Samaritans or the Ammonites or the Arabs. This time the problem was against each other.

Always remember – the enemy’s favorite tactic is not overt action but covert action. If he can turn the husband against the wife, the wife against the husband, brother against brother, sister against sister, and Christian against Christian, he is happy.

One of Satan’s greatest tactics against church is to divide the church. If he can turn one member against another; one family against another; one youth against another youth; he is happy. Every morning I pray – “God Keep Clearview United. Keep us together.”

Application:  This morning I want us to listen very carefully to what God has to say to you as a couple, as a family, and even as a church.

There are three major things we are going to see in this passage

I. CONFLICT BEGINS WHEN PEOPLE FEEL NEGLECTED.

Nehemiah heard complaints from 4 different groups:

For there were those who said, “We, our sons, and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain, that we may eat and live.”

1st Group – those who had no food to eat.

Seventy-five years earlier, Haggai had talked about a terrible drought as a punishment from God. These people were still suffering from the effects of that drought.

There were also some who said, “We have mortgaged our lands and vineyards and houses, that we might buy grain because of the famine.”

2nd Group – those who had land but had to mortgage their property for food.

There were also those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our lands and vineyards.

3rd Group – those who could not pay their taxes and were forced to borrow money.

Persian kings were notorious for collecting super high taxes every year. Once the taxes were collected the custom was to melt down the gold and silver and pour it into jars, which were then broken and the bullion stored. At Susa, Alexander the Great found 270 tons of gold and 1200 tones of silver. Sadly, the Persians never put money and food back into their provinces.

Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children; and indeed we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have been brought into slavery. It is not in our power to redeem them, for other men have our lands and vineyards.”

4th Group – those who were forced to sell their children into slavery.

Have you noticed an interesting thing? They were not complaining against the Persians but against their own brothers and sisters. They were upset because their own brothers and sisters didn’t care what was happening to them.

Conflict begins when people feel neglected. That sounds like a church, doesn’t it?!

–       I’ve been sick for two weeks and nobody called. My question: When other people get sick, do you call them?

–       I’ve always doing things for others and nobody cares about my needs. My question: Are you doing something and expecting something in return?

–       I went to church and nobody even cared to ask how I was doing. My question: Are you plugged in a small group like Sunday School or prayer group or bible study? Do you have a sign on your forehead that says “Back off?”

Same things go on in the home and family. Conflict begins when one person feels neglected.

Application: Don’t ever assume that you know what someone’s going through. You never know what is happening in someone’s life.

1. Conflict begins when someone feels neglected.

II. VISION KEEPS US FORGIVING AND FOCUSSED

And I became very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. After serious thought, I rebuked the nobles and rulers, and said to them, “Each of you is exacting usury from his brother.”

Background: Some of the nobles and the Jewish rulers were giving loans and charging interest. God had specifically told them not to do so.

Leviticus 25:35-38  35 ‘If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. 36 Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you. 37 You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit. 38 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.

Back to Nehemiah – So I called a great assembly against them. And I said to them, “According to our ability we have redeemed our Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations. Now indeed, will you even sell your brethren? Or should they be sold to us?” Then they were silenced and found nothing to say.

Background: It’s the vision that silenced them. They knew they were wrong. Nehemiah asked them to stop charging usury and told them to restore this day “their lands, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, also a hundredth of the money and the grain, the new wine and the oil, that you have charged them. 12 So they said, “We will restore it, and will require nothing from them; we will do as you say.”

When people are working towards a common goal and vision, they are willing to forgive and remain focused on the vision.

O.S. Hawkins said – “Rebuilders never cut what they can untie! They work through the knots of interpersonal relationships without cutting them off.”

Why do some churches tear apart? Because they cut instead of untie. Why do some marriages tear apart? Because they cut instead of untie.

What is our vision at Clearview? To lead all people into a life-changing and ever-growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

As long as a person is willing to stay under that vision, we are willing to work together and untie instead of cut.

1. Conflict begins when someone feels neglected. 2. Vision keeps us forgiving and focused.

III. SERVING OTHERS IS THE SECRET OF LIFE.

14 Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year until the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the governor’s provisions. Even though other previous governors had done so, Nehemiah didn’t. 16 Indeed, I also continued the work on this wall, and we did not buy any land. All my servants were gathered there for the work.

17 And at my table were one hundred and fifty Jews and rulers, besides those who came to us from the nations around us. 18 Now that which was prepared daily was one ox and six choice sheep. Also fowl were prepared for me, and once every ten days an abundance of all kinds of wine. Yet in spite of this I did not demand the governor’s provisions, because the bondage was heavy on this people.

19 Remember me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.

The ultimate example of such a caring and giving life is Jesus Christ Himself.

Christ-Washing-Peters-Feet-_Ford-Madox-Brown

Right during the final supper –


John 13:12-17   12 
So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.

Application: This is the example that we are to follow. Like Jesus we are to give ourself away.

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