Nehemiah 11: Put Your Life on the Line
August 17, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The commitment to renewal of the city continues to spread. Already, we note the leaders are living in Jerusalem (11:1). Though that seems a passing note, it is actually highly significant. It is sometimes said that you need to live where your ministry is. There is normally (all other things being equal) little point trying to have a ministry in one area while living in an entirely different area. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but especially when (as in this case in Jerusalem at the time) the place where the ministry is happening is no longer a desirable location to live, it is hard to have genuine credibility if you do not live where you are ministering. It is more than “putting your money where your mouth is”; it is “putting your life where your mouth is.” Well, in this case, the leaders were already living in Jerusalem. They were on location where they were serving—politically, in terms of spiritual leadership, and governing where they were invested. And by living where they were serving, they were giving public testimony to their investment.
The leaders having led the way, others followed suit. The rest of the people were not living in Jerusalem. It was a broken–down shell of a city, and it was not a desirable or safe place to bring up a family or operate a business. Therefore, most people were living elsewhere. But following the example of the leaders, the people now found a randomized way (“casting lots”) to select 10% to go live in the city (11:1). They were “seeding” the city with new life, new people, new blood, new family, home life, business life, and direct real commitment.
As is appropriate, those who made such commitments are then publicly honored. This, too, is a principle worth bearing in mind: give to everyone what is due, respect to those who deserve respect. Our motto is always “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone Be the Glory), but that does not mean we do not honor those through whom God is glorified. It is appropriate publicly, in recording, to mention and honor those whose lives and commitments are honorable. It inspires the rest of us to live up to such attainments, especially as those whom we honor are those whose aim is to honor the One who is be honored above all others.
If you wish to see renewal in your city, neighborhood or country, it cannot be done “at a distance.” It requires personal investment. I am reminded of the story of Gandhi who, before he began his political career proper in India, returning there from South Africa, was advised to first tour the whole country in advance of making any public pronouncements or policy statements. He had to know the place. He had to know the people.
Of course, such human, fallen examples pale into insignificance beside the Leader who above all recognized this principle and lived by it. He came from heaven to earth, humbled himself, dwelt among us, suffered on a cross, rose again, and is now exalted to the highest place. Honor Him—and live by following His example too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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