Nehemiah 5:15 – The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God.
In Nehemiah’s day, it was not unlawful for Jews to loan money to one another, but they were not to act like money lenders and charge interest (Deut. 23:19–20). They were to treat one another with love, even in the matter of taking security (Deut. 24:10–13; Ex. 22:25–27) or making a brother a servant (Lev. 25:35–46).
Both the people and the land belonged to the Lord, and He would not have anybody using either one for personal gain in a sinful manner. Furthermore, the “Year of Jubilee” (Lev. 25) required that all debts were forgiven every 50th year, all land restored to its original owners, and all servants set free as God’s way of caring for the poor.
The unrighteous rich in Nehemiah’s day did not share God’s heart for their poor brothers and sisters. Dire economic hardship compelled normally silent wives to speak out in protest on four accounts. First, believers were facing starvation. Second, desperate believers had leveraged all of their possessions (fields, vineyards, houses) and risked literally losing everything. Third, unable to pay their taxes, some were in great legal peril. Fourth, in an effort to stave off financial ruin, some families sold their own children into slavery. Some of God’s people were bankrupting and enslaving fellow church members while they were all working together to rebuild the city and their church as a witness of God’s love!
What does generosity and hospitality look like to you?