While leading the Jews to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, Nehemiah found out the nobles and officials had been overcharging the people in taxes, and charging high interest rates on loans people needed in order to pay those taxes and also to buy food for their families during the famine. When Nehemiah confronted them they didn’t even try to defend themselves. They knew they were guilty.
Nehemiah asked them an important question: “Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?” (5:9) Shouldn’t misrepresenting God to non-believers cause you to fear Him?
The guilty nobles and officials promised to reimburse the people they had cheated.
Nehemiah pointed out that former governors had placed a heavy burden on the people with high taxes, and demands for luxurious living for themselves. The people remembered how hard life had been under their rule. And as Nehemiah was using himself as an example of how to treat people fairly, he said in verse 15:
Out of reverence for God I did not act like that.
I feel God asking me this morning if I’d dare set myself up as an example of how to treat people. And if not, why not?
Shouldn’t I walk in the fear of God? Shouldn’t I live my life out of reverence for God? If I really did that, I would have no reason NOT to tell people to imitate me.
Nehemiah reminds me unsaved people are watching me. I believe non-believers judge Christians by the choices I make. I believe their opinion of God is influenced by how I represent Him.
This morning as I sit here and think about this passage, I am considering what living with reverence for God looks like here in 2020. I think it involves both love for God and fear of Him. It involves service and worship, kindness and obedience, honesty and purity and courage and humility and surrender. It means standing out in a crowd, and standing up for Truth.
I want to live my life out of reverence for God, and I want Him to get the glory. I want to live my life out of reverence for God, because anything else is not what He deserves.