When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry.
Nehemiah 5:6 NIV
The overriding sin in Nehemiah 5 was “selfishness.”
I agree with what Warren Wiersbe says about selfishness in his commentary “Be Determined,” (p. 71), “When the enemy fails in his attacks from the outside, he then begins to attack from within; and one of his favorite weapons is selfishness. If he can get us thinking only about ourselves and what we want, then he will win the victory before we realize that he is even at work.”
What exactly is selfishness? Selfishness is described in The Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “concerned with one’s own welfare excessively or without regard for others.” (P. 449)
When I insist on getting what I want when I want it, I am practicing selfishness. Many times this involves taking advantage of the kindness of others or using their friendship for personal gain.
This is exactly what was happening in Nehemiah, Chapter five. As a result, a great outcry developed that ultimately reached the point where Nehemiah had to confront the participants and take bold action. The outcry came from four groups of people:
Group 1 - were the non-landowners. These people didn’t own any land, but they were desperately in need of food. (v.2) the population was growing and a famine had struck the land.
Group 2 – were the landowners who had mortgaged their fields, vineyards and homes to get grain (v. 3). Inflation and prices were skyrocketing. Does this sound familiar?
Group 3 – were tax borrowers who had to use sons and daughters for collateral to pay their taxes. The collected tax monies were not being used to benefit the economy. Much like what we see today isn’t it? (v. 4)
Group 4 – were wealthy Jews who were exploiting their own brothers and sisters by loaning money and charging exorbitant interest rates. Usury was forbidden according to Jewish law.
If allowed to flourish, selfishness can spread like a cancer in the local church. It takes bold action on the part of leadership to stem the tide.
Thought for the Day: When God looks at us; he is looking for selflessness not selfishness.
Prayer: Dear Lord, we are all selfish by nature, but through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and help from the Holy Spirit we can keep it under control.