Jesus told the disciples that people would know they were Christians by the love they had for each other. I suppose, since this is a big deal it is no wonder that Satan attacks this area so much. How many Christians do you personally know who are known for their love and care for other believers?
Yeah, I don't know that many either. In fact, it has been my personal experience that Christians often treat each other worse than non-believers. It's sad but true. I remember reading somewhere that only about 2% of churches split over actual theological issues, and that usually, the issue is something minor - like the color of the carpet or the location of a new building. If we are to love each other more than ourselves and think of other people's needs before our own - how does this happen? Why is it that in polls and surveys, most non-believers see Christians as petty, mean and bigoted?
Some of that is caused by mainstream media that always seems to portray believers as petty and narrow minded and nasty, but it also has a seed of truth in it. Take for instance the Westboro Church that goes around protesting at military funerals. I can see how that activity says Jesus loves you. (I'm rolling my eyes here) The truth is we, as a church body, have become so me-focused, we don't even see the needs of others.
In Nehemiah chapter 5, the Jews had turned on each other. They had overcome the nastiness of Sanballat and Tobiah. They were carrying their weapons while they did their portion of the wall, but now fellow Jews were taxing other Jews to the point of having to put their children into slavery and losing their lands, possessions and money. Now that sounds loving doesn't it?
Nehemiah stepped in immediately. He did not tolerate the way the people were treating each other. In verses 7 and 8, he throws their actions right in their faces. It says at the end of verse 8, "Then they were silent and could not find a word to say." There was no excuse for what they were doing and they knew it.
Nehemiah didn't just call them on their actions, he made them make restitution for their actions by giving back the lands, produce and money they had taken. He cautioned them strongly about going back to their old ways, shaking his cloak as a visual of what God would do to them if they went back to usury.
Then Nehemiah set a good example. Instead of taking a tax from the people (which was his right as a governor) to feed himself and his staff, Nehemiah refused to take a penny of it. He also showed the people that God provided for he and his household's needs in abundance. Instead of taking advantage of his leadership position, Nehemiah did what good leaders are supposed to do - he protected those who couldn't protect themselves; he demanded justice and he set a good example himself.
You just gotta love Nehemiah!
~ Blessings, Bronte