"Shouldn't you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?" - Nehemiah 5:9
Nehemiah was the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes in Babylon. Jerusalem's walls had been destroyed and word had come to Nehemiah that the remnant of his people left in Jerusalem were distressed over the plight of the wall.
Nehemiah was grieved over this situation. He appealed to his king for permission to rebuild the wall. When he got to the city, he found many problems among his own people due to an economic crisis in the region. Among the classes affected by the economic crisis were
(1) the landless, who were short of food;
(2) the landowners, who were compelled to mortgage their properties;
(3) those forced to borrow money at exorbitant rates and sell their children into slavery. It was unlawful for Hebrews to charge interest to other Hebrews.
"Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our countrymen and though our sons are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others" (Nehemiah 5:5).
Nehemiah stepped forward to admonish his people for this wrongful action on the basis that not only was it wrong, but God would respond to such action by making them susceptible to His judgment through the Gentile enemies.
Nehemiah was modeling to each of us a spiritual principle regarding sin. Whenever we sin, we give God permission to unleash the enemy into our souls to deal with that sin. Nehemiah understood this principle and warned the people of what this action would encourage from God. The people repented and returned the money gained through usury.
As Christian workplace believers we must make sure that our practices are righteous in God's sight. If not, we can expect the enemy to be released to judge that sin. Ask the Lord today if there is any unrighteousness in your business practices that makes you vulnerable to judgment.