Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Let’s look at two more pratical principles in Nehemiah 5. First of all, concerning leadership: leaders attack rather than avoid problems. Tim Hansel wrote a great book entitled “Eating Problems For Breakfast.” I like that because that is what a leader does. When he runs into a problem, he does not stick his head in the sand or just hope that it goes away. He confronts the problem head-on. That is what Nehemiah did. When he saw his people in financial distress, he did not say, “That is their problem. They can deal with it.” Nehemiah did not act like a diplomat and do the safe thing. He did not act like a politician and do the popular thing. Instead, Nehemiah acted like a leader and he did the right thing, and because of that God blessed him.
Second, here is a principle concerning money: money enslaves both the needy and the greedy. We saw in Nehemiah 5 how the poor allowed themselves to literally be enslaved by indebtedness. They were not free to serve God because they had not followed God’s principles about money. But it was not just the poor who were enslaved by money. These rich noblemen in Jerusalem who had charged interest, they were so blinded by greed that they too were slaves of money. They were willing to violate God’s Word in order to satisfy their greed. The person who checks the stock market every ten minutes and endlessly calculates his net worth–that person is just as much a servant to the dollar as the person who has his Visa card charged to the max. The person who has millions of dollars and winces when he hears the pastor talking about giving 10 percent to God’s work–that person is just as much a slave to greed as the person who is consumed with fear over his debt. Neither the needy nor the greedy is free to serve God.
How do you break the financial stranglehold that money holds over your life, whether you have a lot of it or little of it? By learning to become poor in spirit. In Matthew 5:3, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” What does it mean to be poor in spirit? A. W. Tozer wrote, “These blessed poor are no longer slaves to the tyranny of things. They have broken the yoke of the oppressor; and this they have done not by fighting but by surrendering. Though free from all sense of possessing, they yet possess all things. ‘Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’” We will never be free to be blessed by God until we surrender that thing which is dearest to us. It might be a relationship. It might be a dream for the future. It might be our money. But only when we let go of those things we are holding most dearly are we free to serve and be blessed by God. Jim Elliot the missionary wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” That is how we break out of financial bondage.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Avoiding The Dollar Holler” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
A. W. Tozer, “The Pursuit Of God” (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, Inc., 1948), 23; Elisabeth Elliot, ed., “The Journals Of Jim Elliot” (1978; repr., Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2002) 174.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org