I am starting to see Nehemiah as an incredible parallel to the Christian journey, not just a story about a man rebuilding a wall or being a solid leader.  Last week we discovered the incredible amount of external opposition he faced and this week we’ll unpack some opposition he faces internally, from his own people and, perhaps more importantly, how Nehemiah responds.

Spoiler Question: How do you respond when you learn of unfair situations that anger you?

Chapters Thus Far:

1 – Nehemiah broken when learns of state of Jerusalem; because he loves God and hurts to see the state of His people and desires to see His promise fulfilled.

2: 1-10 – Nehemiah desires to bring God glory so much he abandons his Persian palace and heads out to do work in Jerusalem.

2:11-20 – We learn of the calling to Go and Rebuild.

3 – The Gates parallel the Christian life.  Ah-Mazing stuff…

4 – External Opposition : way in which the devil attacks

It’s one thing to have enemies throw wrenches at you but what about when it’s someone you know?  Well, I mean of course, other than if you’re learning to play dodgeball)

Wrench throwing in that regard is always ok.

Interestingly, it is vital that we understand the purpose of this opposition in general. Very much the same way “Patches” O’Houlihan used literal wrenches to
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another
improve the abilities of the players, God uses opposition to sharpen us, to shape us, mold us more into His likeness. Maybe I’ll make a t-shirt, “If you can’t dodge a wrench, you can’t grow in Christ.”

#maybenot

Moving on.  Let me sum up 5:1-4

People are bringing to Nehemiah’s attention the following issues:

  • We need more food (we have large families)
  • We have mortgaged our land (to get food)
  • We have borrowed to pay taxes
  • Despite being of the same bloodline as our wealthier friends/family, we are destitute

Nehemiah’s response to this?

When I heard their complaints, I was very angry. After thinking it over, I spoke out against these nobles and officials. I told them, “You are hurting your own relatives by charging interest when they borrow money!” Then I called a public meeting to deal with the problem.

I bolded “thinking it over” because I don’t do that.  Almost ever.  Patience is not a virtue I have (yet) and when I get hot, say hello to Reaction Mode.

What I’m enjoying most about this book is observing qualities in a godly man that inspire me and this one, in particular, strikes a chord I haven’t learned how to play.  Similar to my father-in-law (a mid-western farmer), Nehemiah understands the importance of pausing to think through the entire picture.  We see him do this in Chapter 1/2 when he learns of Jerusalem’s state and, again, when he inspects the wall.  This attribute is seen throughout scripture in the lives of faithful men, most notably, in that of Jesus.

Jesus tells his mom ‘it is not his time’ to start his ministry with the water-into-wine story (though, he then busts out that incredible magic trick), he gradually builds his team even willing to reduce the group to 12, and turns to draw in the dirt whiles people ponder what he just told them.

Let alone his long, slow, painful trip to the cross.

Patience. Waiting on the Lord.  Pausing to think things over.

Q: Why is so important to you, Logan?

Maybe more so now than ever, because I’m a parent.  On one hand, I just want to honor God with my life and in another, I want to shepard my kids, my family, as He shepards me.  I’ve reacted to my children’s behavior, my wife’s behavior, out of anger without pausing to think about it.  The most painful way I’ve discovered it is the look on their face when (even they) know they are being unjustly (re)acted upon.

Like this story. I’ve done that.  Here are the author’s advice:

  • The Slow-to-Anger Parent Doesn’t Assume Heart Motive
  • The Slow-to-Anger Parent Replaces Anger with Love
  • The Slow-to-Anger Parent has a Perfect Fatherly Example

Admittedly, I’m a tad of context by now, as Nehemiah doesn’t appear to be slow-to-anger, but the point of Service Second is knowing Him and right now, as I write this sitting outside, enjoying the beautiful 70 degree morning, listening to my children play inside, I’m hopeful, grateful, for what He’s doing.

Glory be to God

Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. James 1:19

 

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Logan Ramirez

Native San Antonian Logan Seth Ramirez, graduated from Trinity University with a degree in Computer Science , does analytics professionally, and founded San Antonio based Web Design & Hosting company Orange Pulley, LLC. His creative outlets are music and web design and laughing at his favorite Spanish word, cacahuates. Come find me on Google+

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