I recently read the book of Nehemiah in my quite time. It wasn’t a long book; only 13 chapters in all. The book opens with Nehemiah learning the fate of his fellow Jews back in Jerusalem and being moved to tears. The first person narrative recounts his actions,
“When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” (Ne 1:4).
I don’t know about you, but rarely do you meet someone who weeps like this, but when you do it is generally over a personal tragedy. Nehemiah wasn’t weeping over a personal tragedy, like the loss of a brother or sister, he was weeping over something much more serious.
Why Did He Weep?
There is no need to conjecture or seek a hidden motive for this prolonged time of mourning, for the author actually lists it in his confession and prayer to God: “We have sinned against You; I and my father’s house have sinned.” (Ne. 1:6). The issue that lead him to weep for days was his and the nation of Israel’s sin.
Now at this point we have to do check our hearts. If your heart is anything like mine you are thinking, “I don’t respond like that, not even by a long shot.” Usually when I look at my own sin I make excuses:
- It’s really not that bad
- It was someone else’s primary fault
- I won’t do it again, so no worries
- It didn’t hurt anyone, so it doesn’t matter
- It wasn’t illegal, so it’s not that wrong
But Nehemiah wasn’t being some drama queen; he was setting a godly example for us to follow.
The list above are all lies that the enemy tells us and that our hearts choose to believe, but it is a practice that we need to put off for good! Our flesh is always looking for a chance to please itself as long as we are on this side of Heaven. Satan is always seeking to find a way to drive us from our Savior. The only answer to all of this is that we need to look at our sin like Nehemiah did.
We need to see that our sin has damaged our relationship with our Savior. I didn’t say broken or ruined, I said damaged. We need to make sure that we are taking sin seriously, knowing that our God is a holy and righteous.
God actually says at one point in the Bible, “For you must not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (Ex. 34:14). Just like a husband who is Jealous for his wife to love him and only him, God is Jealous for us to love him and only him.
All of us have failed in our relationship with God. And when we fail, we need to take the step of repentance. If you read the rest of the story of Nehemiah, you see a man who gets up after his weeping and moves to action. Repentance has to be more than just words; there has to be fruit.
In your life, if you are failing in one or more areas, I would encourage you to repent, and in that repentance, bear fruit.