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The Cloud of Witnesses

Former title Lessons From the People of the Bible



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Lesson 8: Nehemiah – When The Going Gets Tough The Tough Get Going


Nehemiah 13.

When The Going Gets Tough The Tough Get Going

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.

Nehemiah would say to us today...

Try to be impartial in all you do but don’t procrastinate over issues that need to be dealt with, whether by foes, friends or family


Father, none of us enjoys discipline or having to discipline. However, help me to remember that discipline is to my advantage because through it I become wiser and more sensitive to Your ways and purposes for my life. Help me learn to deal with issues at the right time and in the right way. For Your Kingdom’s sake. Amen.

Additional readings

Genesis 34:1-30; 1 Samuel 2:12-17; Acts 5:1-11; Hebrews 12:1-13.


What are the issues in your life that you would rather not deal with?

Why is procrastination never right?

Why is it more difficult to challenge those we love?

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Sold Out For Jesus and Ring of Truth – daily devotionals by John White
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