What can a leader do when he discovers those he leads are being pilfered by others within the organization or community? Is it enough to speak out against such corruption, or should the leader set the example of generosity towards those being abused? Too many of our politicians talk about the plight of poor people but when their financial records are released it shows they believe itâ€™s the government’s job to take care of the poor instead of themselves. They are modern day Ebenezer Scroogeâ€™s. Nehemiah faced the same problem and he ensured that none of his actions ever cost or burdened the people.
â€œMoreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year until the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the governorâ€™s provisions. But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of God. Indeed, I also continued the work on this wall, and we did not buy any land. All my servants were gathered there for the work.â€ (Nehemiah 5:14-16)
By Nehemiah or his people not eating from the governorâ€™s provisions, this great leader in effect gave the people a tax cut. Not only that but Nehemiah also stopped directly stealing from the people as his predecessors had done. And to set the example for the other leaders Nehemiah and his servants pitched in to help rebuild the wall.
Todayâ€™s politicians all ape the same words about being public servants and service being the highest honor and privilege and yet the large majority of them are in those positions for personal gain. Public servants forget that they are not there to reward the public with their sacrifice; they are there at the design of God. Read what Matthew Henry had to say about this:
â€œThose who truly fear God will not dare do any thing cruel or unjust. Let all who are in public places remember that they are so placed to do good, not to enrich themselves. Nehemiah mentions it to God in prayer, not as if he had merited any favor from God, but to show that he depended upon God only, to make up to him what he had lost and laid out for his honor.â€
It is important to remember that Pastor Henry wrote these words some 300 years ago. The prayer mentioned is the following:
â€œAnd at my table were one hundred and fifty Jews and rulers, besides those who came to us from the nations around us. Now that which was prepared daily was one ox and six choice sheep. Also fowl were prepared for me, and once every ten days an abundance of all kinds of wine. Yet in spite of this I did not demand the governorâ€™s provisions, because the bondage was heavy on this people. Remember me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.â€ (Nehemiah 5:17-19)
At first glance Nehemiahâ€™s motives might come into question as conceited but it was common in Old Testament times to â€œsealâ€ your memoirs with a prayer. This is all Nehemiah is doing and it is his way of acknowledging that he lived his live in service to his God.
Contrast this today with our public servants. We have a government that constantly lays burdens on the people through out of control spending, invasive regulations, and confiscatory taxation. They do so because we let them. They do so because we as a nation have turned our backs on God and we no longer seek personal piety. No, political pragmatism is the rule in America today and in the conservative movement more so than ever. In a nation founded under God this approach will always fail. It has and it will continue to do so. It does so because we do not trust God.
Until February 27, 2009 I too believed that the pragmatic approach to politics was the sure way to rescue our nation.
It is not.
Nehemiah has shown us otherwise.
John Quincy Adams told us tooâ€¦
â€œDuty is ours; results are Godâ€™s.â€
â€œAlways vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.â€
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