But the earlier governors–those preceding me–placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that. Nehemiah 5:15 (NLT)
Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall. All my men were assembled there for the work; we did not acquire any land.
This verse is written after Nehemiah has begun the work of rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls and gates, that God placed on his heart.(Nehemiah2:12) As cupbearer to the king, Nehemiah gained favor and his requests were granted to the point of fulfillment. Now he is Governor and is working on the wall.
In Nehemiah 3 we see the listing of people and their roles in rebuilding the gates or walls of Jerusalem. You also see who is working next to who.
Verse 16 is a response to what we read about how other governors have acquired land and wealth, and then “lorded it over the people.” in Verse 15. Nehemiah is saying that he devoted himself to his work, rather than getting distracted by wealth or being greedy like the previous governors. He did not like how those governors had been a burden or treated the people, he saw it as a lack of respect for God. Some translations say Nehemiah didn’t act like the other governors because of his “fear of God” (ESV).
Wow. Character.It is disrespectful to God to disrespect people. People are the most important priority to God and if we as leaders cannot control ourselves with how we treat others, or ourselves, then we are disrespecting God. There is thus, a lack of reverence for God due to our lack of reverence for His creation.
It is easy to say that God is first in my life, but if there is greed or pride or showing off, or promoting self over others… it is a distraction from putting your hand to the mill … or rather, getting the mission done! Do not become distracted and make other things in life more important in your own mind.
Later in the day, after writing the above post, I was speaking with a close friend and she shared how a pastor had inspired her when he had spoken of how God should be seen all over our day. Having kids and being married, and wanting nice things is- all fine …but our focal point should be God and painting that across our day!
Dear Lord, keep me humble in heart and mind, and my eyes on You. I desire to show you respect through my daily actions and words to those around me. You are my example of love, peace, grace, and joy. May my focus be on being a better vessel for you. Keep me from being distracted, and thank you for helping me to get Our work done. Give me vision Lord, open up my mind to see more than I already do, yours,