Greed and Generosity

Greed and Generosity

Greed and Generosity

  • Last week Nehemiah posted guards around the city to defend from his enemies, This week he deals with an even greater threat within the walls of the city.  
  • Have you ever noticed that the greatest threats are always from within?  The greatest threat to the Israelites, (both before and after the exile) was their own sins.  Not some outside invader.  The greatest threat to Rome was from within.  The greatest threat to America is not Russia, or China, but our own moral and social decay.  The greatest threat to Celebration Church is from within.  The greatest threat to your family is from within.  The greatest threat to you and your personal holiness is from within you.  

Nehemiah 5:1-19


The story of Nehemiah is that God’s people are trying to assemble.  They are trying to gather together, worship together, live together as a community.  To love one another, to take care of one another. But there are a lot of obstacles and a lot of enemies that they have to deal with.  Last week we learned:

  1. The entire governmental system surrounding Jerusalem was completely against them.  
  2. The culture they were living in was totally Godless and evil.  
  3. The people of God were marginalized and made fun of. 
  4. And we will read today that there was a famine in the land.  Now, most of the resources that the Israelites used to make a living were by farming.  So a famine means that there was a huge economic downturnAll the money was drying up.  Many of the Israelites did not have enough to live on and it was extremely difficult. Compound that with the building of the wall. And people were taking advantage of it all.

Everyone and everything is against God’s people. The Government wasn’t going to take care of them.  The culture was certainly not for God’s people. They couldn’t rely on the economy, or their bank account to take care of them.  So it became increasingly important for Gods people to take care of, provide for, support, be generous, and pray for one another.  

  • All this leads us to the context of Nehemiah 5. God’s people were not taking care of each other. And if God’s people don’t take care of one another, no one is going to take care of them. 

This is a Financial Problem (Vs 1-5)

    • Explain
      • Here is what is happening: The economy is tanking, the Persian government is raising taxes, and the wealthy Israelites say to one another, “we have a real opportunity here to maximize profit.  We can up our prices, and increase the interest rate on these loans!”  And they get the people to put up everything they have as collateral, including their own children for slavery. All just to be able to eat for another year.  They are starting to sell their own children into slavery because if they don’t, both the parent and the child will die of starvation.  God’s people were not taking care of God’s people.  Instead, God’s people were taking advantage of their own people to increase their pocketbook.  
      • 4 Categories 
        • Godly Rich – Nehemiah, Abraham, Lot, Boaz, King David, Zaccheus
  • Generous, Selfless, Good stewards, Strong work ethic, Taking care of God’s money.
        • Ungodly Rich – The Israelites in this passage – Take advantage of people for selfish gain. Use and Abuse without a care for those they have to step on to get what they want.  
          • 1st Timothy 6:10a – The love of money is the root of all kinds of evils
        • Godly Poor – The Israelites in this passage – Being crushed under the foot of a corrupt, evil, overtaxing government.  Being used by the wealthy. Hardly able to survive. But they trust God
          • Matthew 6:26-33 – (birds=food, Lilies=Clothes, Don’t worry, seek God, and he will add to you all that you need)
        • Ungodly Poor – people who do not spend wisely, tithe or invest smartly, they often blame others for their problems, yet seek handouts from the same people they are blaming.  They often tend not to work, or to work very little.  
          • Proverbs 6:10-11 – A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, 11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.
    • Prove
      • 1 Timothy 6:17-19 – As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
    • Apply
      • What category are you?
        • Godly Poor? – If you live in America, probably not.  I have been to Haiti, and Peru, to several Arab nations, small villages in India, and let me just say it this way, a bad day here is still a pretty good day.   
  • 60% of the world still does not have an indoor toilet.
      • You will either love money, and use people, or use money to love people.
    • Are you finding your identity in your stuff?  In your income?  Do you believe that your net worth determines your self worth?  Do you actually believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive?
    • No man is an island (our sin affects others).
      • Pornography – damages your spouse, current or future
      • Anger – Harms your family, makes them feel unloved and without value
      • A Greedy heart – Robs others of the blessings of God.
      • A selfish spirit – Keeps you from living for something greater than yourself, and keeps people from hearing and knowing about Christ.

This Is a People Problem (Vs 6-13)

  • Explain
    • Imagine you come to church and somebody else drives into the parking lot in your car. And out of the car comes your daughter, who’s now their slave. And they are going to go home to what used to be your house, but because you didn’t read the fine print and they gave you an impossible interest rate, now it’s all theirs. How hard would it be to worship with that person?  Your relationship with them would be completely broken.
    • How do you think God would feel about such a situation?  We don’t have to wonder. 
      • Exodus 22:25 – If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him.
    • This is one of 2000 verses (800 different instances) in the Bible that talks about how God’s people should handle money and possessions.  25% of Jesus’ teaching is about money.
    • Nehemiah Gets angry, and note what he does not do.  He doesn’t hop on twitter and write a scathing tweet.  He doesn’t become a keyboard warrior, He doesn’t throw up his hands in defeat.  He doesn’t bad mouth these guys behind their back
    • He holds an assembly, and he confronts them directly.  He brings charges against the ungodly rich. 
      • Now what they were doing was probably not illegal.  But it was sin.  The law of the land and the Law of God are often very different things. 
        • The law of God goes above and beyond the law of the land. 
      • And he does this difficult and uncomfortable thing for a reason. To reconcile the people to one another. To mend what was broken.  
        • Galatians 6:10 – So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
  • Apply
    • Repentance 
      • They turned away from doing their evil deeds.  When you are confronted with your sins, do you own them, and repent of them? Or do you make excuses?  Would you be that guy in the assembly that stands up and says, well ya know I earned that profit!  I paid for that slave!  I have the title to that house!  They didn’t deserve it!  
        • Our sinful hearts can justify anything.  Not just some things, anything.  A heart that justifies sin is always the same.  Whether it be tax evasion, “its my money anyways”.  To domestic abuse, “its her fault for making me angry”. 
          • Your deception is fooling no one but yourself.  Especially not God. 
        • Romans 2:6-8 – He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
      • The Ungodly rich repented. But they did more than that, they made it right. 
    • Restitution
      • Repentance is saying, “I was wrong”.  Restitution is saying, “I will make it right”.  And they do. They give back the land, the family members, the money.  They made peace. Peace with their fellow Israelites, and peace with God. This is what it took for peace to be made.  The offending party sacrificed for reconciliation
      • Gospel – The offended party sacrificed for reconciliation – You owed Him, yet He paid for you.  And He didn’t just pay with land and home and money, He paid with His very life.  The wealthiest man, became the poor man 


Nehemiah As a Case Study (Conclusion)

  • He was governor of the people
    • Normally the governor receives a large portion of the taxes of the people for his Job.  Nehemiah did not take anything from them.  In fact, it was the opposite.
      • 1 oxen per day over 12 years = 4380 oxen, 6 sheep per day =26280 sheep.  Wine in abundance (this is a guy who knows fine wine).  This is abundant wealth that he is giving away.
      • He gave generously so others didn’t have to. and He said, “It is either going to hurt me or it is going to hurt them.  He decided, “its going to hurt me, that is what I want”  They carry the burden, or I do, and I am going to do it. 
    • His final prayer is found in vs 19 Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people. 
      • He worked for free, and gave all that he had, and he said, “God I am going to take care of your people, Please Lord, take care of me.”  Can you pray that prayer this morning?  That is the kind of prayer God loves to answer.



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