Summary: Handling money properly is a basic task every leader must learn.
Handling money properly is a basic task every leader must learn. There are very few projects that a church or business will undertake that do not involved some outlay of cash. Even Jesus addressed the importance of financial planning.
Luke 14:28-30 TLB
28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost.[a] For who would begin construction of a building without first getting estimates and then checking to see if he has enough money to pay the bills? 29 Otherwise he might complete only the foundation before running out of funds. And then how everyone would laugh! 30 “‘See that fellow there?’ they would mock. ‘He started that building and ran out of money before it was finished!’
For leaders careful money management is not an option. Because if you fail in this area you will never be a successful leader. The book of Nehemiah focuses on almost every major principle of leadership.
So we should not be surprised that Nehemiah had to face the money issue. In Fact it sounds just like what we face today.
Verses 1-5. So we figure out immediately that there is a financial crunch taking place. Ever had one? YOU look at your bills – you look at your bank account –you look at the calendar and you say hmmm I’ve got more month than I have money. How am I gonna make it? There were 3 reasons this happened.
1. There was a famine. V. 3 “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our houses that we might get grain because of the famine. So why was there a problem? Well hundreds of new people had now come to Jerusalem to work on the wall. There may have been a drought and there simply was not enough food to feed everyone.
2. There were too many taxes. V.4. The King wanted too much of the people’s money. Sound familiar? V. 4 says we have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our fields and on our vineyards. You see Artaxeres controlled it all. Even though the workers actually lived 1000 miles away they paid taxes right there in Jerusalem. And as always there was those who were taking more than they should. Tax collectors in the day of scripture had a very bad reputation. This continues into the NT days of course. It is one of the reasons Judas had such a bad reputation. Not only did Judas betray Jesus but he also stole money from the treasury the disciples had set aside. It happens. And it only made matters worse.
3. High interest rates. V. 5 According to some financial planners we will be seeing this same thing happen in the next few years. Look at v.5. Their interest rates had gotten so high that they were selling their families into slavery. So for payment their creditors like our banks were taking their land as payment. And when they ran out of land they took their children. So the work has come to a halt. You think the Bible is outdated. Irrelevant? Look at this ….
• High taxes
• Soaring interest rates
The first 5 verses could come right out of the Wall Street journal. Look at how Nehemiah responds to all of this. V. 6. What is a leader supposed to do when those who are following start complaining? You might hope you would see some compassion. But what you get is anger. And sometimes anger is the right response. When Jesus came into the temple and they were selling sacrifices to the people (at very high prices btw) Jesus became angry – so angry he turned the tables over. So angry he fashioned some cords into a whip and started swinging it in the temple. Jesus was angry. He said, this is a house of prayer but you’ve made it into a den of thieves!
Now here Nehemiah was angry because the people had forgotten the law. Our view of the law of that day --- because operate by grace – our view of the law is usually negative. But the law was actually good. Think of the law as being like a set of train tracks -- they are there to keep the train on course – to help the train get to its proper destination.
In 2018 we would do well to pay attention to this. And to the guidelines that are here. Exodus 22:25.
He says when you lend money to someone who is in a difficult situation lend it without interest. Now look at Deuteronomy 23:19-20. This is why God gives these restrictions. V. 20. So that the Lord your God may blessed you in all you undertake. Here is the principle. Obey God. God provides. Don’t charge interest. Don’t be greedy. God provides. Now to those who were looking on, that would be odd. Foreigners would think how in the world are they surviving without charging interest?