Reading the Bible can often ‘open up a can of worms’.
As soon as Nehemiah left, the people went back to their old way of life. Non-Jews were accepted into the ‘fold’ and inter-cultural marriage, which was expressly forbidden because of the potential for idolatry, was again permitted.
They even allowed their enemy, Tobiah, some space in the Temple complex.
Tithes and offerings were down, and the people were working on the Sabbath.
Things were looking grim. However, as soon as Nehemiah returned, he set about putting everything back in order and appointing appropriate people to be in charge - people of integrity and who could be trusted to both get the work done and to prosper it.
Many were complex issues and needed careful handling; however, Nehemiah didn’t lose any sleep or time confronting each issue and the people who had created the difficulties. He didn’t compromise but remained fair and firm.
Regardless of who was in error - the enemy, the leaders, the priests or the people - Nehemiah got stuck into each of the perpetrators of the crimes and dealt with them in the most appropriate way. It wasn’t easy and he may well have lost friends in the process and no doubt many well-meaning people tried to get him to compromise on the way. But Nehemiah was going to hold true to what had to be done and ended up sorting the issues out one by one and re-establishing order and righteousness.
Each of us is called upon to act in righteousness and sometimes that is hard because it affects friends, family and maybe even our future. However, we have to make the decision – will we follow Christ or be bound by the fear of men?
Or will we hide in the hope that it will go away? That is an illusion! Often the price of procrastination is very high - on the person, on the extra people that are unnecessarily affected and on us for failing to deal with it. Follow Nehemiah’s example and deal with the confrontation as soon as is practical and in the most righteous way.
Remember - integrity takes years to grow and only seconds to lose. Once you lose it, it is almost impossible to regain.