On Sunday, we began a new series called Rebuild, a study through the book of Nehemiah. In the opening verses of the first chapter of Nehemiah, we saw the heart of a man who cared deeply for others. His example is challenging for us.
Nehemiah had a prominent position in the Persian government. He had a life of luxury and privilege. In fact, he was miles and miles away from Jerusalem and the Jewish exiles who had returned to Judah. But Nehemiah was interested in what was going on with his people, the Jews in Jerusalem. When a group from Judah came to visit, Nehemiah asked how the Jews were doing. He cared.
When he heard the report that the city was in shambles and the people were in trouble, Nehemiah wept. He prayed. He fasted. He was devastated over the condition of the Jews and Jerusalem. He had a broken heart.
In today’s fast-paced world, we’re tempted to ignore the needs of others. After all, we’re planning our activities, trips, and hobbies. We’ve got this to do and that to do. We just don’t have time to care. Not only that, we face a constant barrage of bad news from all over the world. Often, we grow apathetic and numb to the needs of others. Is this the way we are meant to live as believers?
Nehemiah’s concern for others speaks to twenty-first-century Christians in a powerful way. We are called to be a people who care. When people are hurting, it should matter to us, especially when fellow brothers and sisters in the family of God are struggling (Galatians 6:10). Of course, none of us can fix the problems of the entire world, but we can certainly help people within our circle of relationships and within our faith family.
If we’re going to care and get involved when others are facing difficulty, we will likely have to give some things up. We’ll probably have to lay aside some of the things that we enjoy or that take a lot of our time. Once again, Nehemiah’s example challenges us. He was willing to leave the comfort and luxury of a Persian palace for a difficult and dangerous mission. What about you? Will your life be about building your kingdom or about a driving concern for the good of others?
Let’s ask God to break our hearts over the pain in the lives of people. Let’s ask Him to help us care, to help us focus not on the furtherance of our own kingdom but of the Kingdom that endures.