For the last three weeks, we have been involved in a conversation called “Realizing your Dream.” The scriptural backdrop for this talk is the book of Nehemiah. The topics we have already covered include: how to receive a dream, getting your dream verified, taking the first step toward dream fulfillment, and how to deal with opposition to the dream.
Now, we will look at a quality that is vital to having the blessing of God remain upon your dream.
Many people start out well; they receive a dream from God, they overcome the outward obstacles to the fulfillment of the dream; but after a while, God’s hand of blessing is removed because the person ceases to walk in integrity. Our goal is to examine integrity and how it worked in Nehemiah’s life with the intent to become people of integrity.
When you get a chance, read NEHEMIAH 5
Let’s turn our view from Jerusalem’s outward oppression to its internal struggles. The problems in Jerusalem were not just centered around opposition from an outside enemy but from conflict within their own walls. Many Jews within Jerusalem were struggling to feed their families. They were turning to their fellow Jews for help who were lending them money and grain at interest and if they were not able to pay, were foreclosing on their land and homes and were taking the children of the indebted into slavery to pay the debt.
God was freeing His children from slavery to other nations but His own children were enslaving their brothers and sisters.
The dream that God gave to Nehemiah always carried the welfare of people in its heart. It was not about walls and gates but about the restoration of God’s people. Therefore, the enslavement of the poor to their brothers was in complete opposition to God’s plan.
Nehemiah confronted the lenders and made them take an oath that they would help their brothers who needed it without collecting interest or repossessing their homes and land and enslaving their children. Nehemiah stayed true to God’s vision.
Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. Proverbs 10:9
Let’s define integrity:
Integrity – completeness; figuratively, prosperity; usually (morally) innocence — full, integrity, perfect(-ion), simplicity, upright(-ly, -ness)
Integrity – the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
Nehemiah made sure that the Jews understood that God’s heart must stay at the center of their work. If you are going to have God’s blessing on your mission, you must remember a few things:
1. God’s greatest treasure is people.
Even if God tells you to build something, His greatest treasure is the people involved and those it will touch. Many get their focus on the project and forget the people. If you do that, God will correct your motive. If you refuse His correction, He will expose you for what you are – a fraud!
- Your responsibilities outweigh your rights.
As governor of the land, Nehemiah was afforded some privileges – a salary and an entertaining budget from taxing the people. The governors before Nehemiah had taken advantage of these privileges but Nehemiah did not. Verse 15 tells us why: “I did not because of the fear of God.”
Nehemiah’s love for God and therefore love for His people caused Him to forego His rights for the benefit of the people. Many people will focus on a “right” that they have to the detriment of the people involved. Even if we deserve what’s coming to us, if the end result is not the love of God and love of others, what lies inside the lines of permissible is no longer beneficial. Our rights don’t get to be god, nor do our privileges get the final word. Don’t forget your responsibility before God to put others first in your decisions.
In New Testament language, it is said this way:
1 Peter 5:2-3 – Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers, not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”
3. Whose glory are we promoting?
Nehemiah didn’t ask God to promote his name or fame. His interest was that God would remember him for what he had done. He was foregoing present glory and fame for eternal significance.
Many works are derailed by the battle over who will get the glory. Jesus plainly told us in John 15 that, without Him we can do nothing. Sometimes, it seems that after God cleans up our lives and heals us that we forget who did the work and we begin to be deceived into thinking that we are doing it by our own wisdom or sweat. I’ve seen this transition take place in God’s leaders and once it does, all kinds of evil is loosed: entitlement thinking, greed, praise seeking, looking for honor from men, becoming a “visibility hound.”
God will share many things with His people, but one thing He will not share is His glory!
Be involved in building a dream that lasts!!! If you build God’s way, your dream will bring glory to God and be a blessing to others!