Summary: This is the 6th sermon in the series "Rebuilding". There will be inward struggles when you rebuild.
Series: Rebuilding [#6]
RESOLVING THE INWARD STRUGGLES OF REBUILDING
One of the most common and unfortunate stories of the Church, the workplace, and the home is fighting amongst each other. Nehemiah faced some inward struggles also.
Nehemiah 5:1-5 (NIV)
“Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their fellow Jews. Some were saying, “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.” Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.” Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our fellow Jews and though our children are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.”
In disregard of the Mosaic Law that forbade a Jew from loaning money at interest to a fellow Jew in need. The wealthier Jews were not only charging 1% interest per month; but also they were taking Jewish children as slaves as collateral for the loans. Nehemiah saw these problems as serious enough to stop the work on the wall long enough to get them resolved. Nehemiah gives us several biblical examples in how to deal with inward conflict.
To resolve a conflict properly…
1. Follow Jesus’ model of conflict resolution.
Matthew 18:15-17 (NIV)
“’If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.’”
Step 1- Go directly to the person and try to get things resolved.
We don’t know whether the people who were being wronged had first gone to those who were doing this to them; but they should have.
Step 2- Go get a leader to go with you to confront the person.
We do know that they brought their complaint to Nehemiah. Depending on the situation, the leader could be the pastor or deacon; the boss; the Father; etc…
Step 3- Take the matter to the Church.
Step 4- Be done with them until they repent.
To resolve a conflict properly…
2. Deal with complaints the right way.
Nehemiah is an example of godly leadership here. He could have told these people, “I’m busy on this wall. Come back in 6 weeks and we’ll talk”; but Nehemiah realized that the problems were significant and the people were upset. So he interrupted his attention on the wall to listen and help resolve this matter.
Nehemiah 5:6-13 (NIV)
“When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, ’You are charging your own people interest!’ So I called together a large meeting to deal with them and said: ‘As far as possible, we have bought back our fellow Jews who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your own people, only for them to be sold back to us!’ They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say. So I continued, ‘What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies? I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let us stop charging interest! Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them- one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil. We will give it back, they said. And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.’ Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath to do what they had promised. I also shook out the folds of my robe and said, ‘In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!’ At this the whole assembly said, ‘Amen,’ and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.”
Nehemiah gives us at least 5 ways to properly deal with complaints.