‘…lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great.’ Luke 6:35a
They had returned from exile cheering, with tears of joy. They had believed in a new life in their own land. But soon it turned out that they were surrounded by many enemies, so that - rebuilding Jerusalem - they needed to be on guard constantly and never even took off their clothes (4:23).
Moreover, the poorest among them began to feel the sting of poverty and even hunger. Now there were those who were better off, who were willing to provide corn for a good price. And it went from bad to worse. In the end, the people did not only need to cope with the enemy outside, but in their own ranks the enemy of greed had risen with such force that even children were claimed as slaves by the creditors. What a big responsibility rests on those who are better off than others!
Paul tells us that God richly provides us with everything to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share (1 Timothy 6:17,18). But as soon as we start using our abundance to enslave others, we undermine the community, and every enemy can then make use of the discontent that has arisen among our own people.
This does not only apply to material things. Whenever - through the ages - a clergy arose, which claimed superiority over the laymen, a sense of discomfort got hold of the believers, which the devil was always all too eager to exploit. The best solution for this is to set an example of true service, just like Nehemiah. For then there will be love and safety again in the church of Christ, for each other and for the world around us.