II Corinthians 8
Man, verse 8 rubs me the wrong way. “These other people really love God so they gave a lot of money, and that means you should too.” How do we deal with this? I understand — and agree — with everything else Paul writes in the passage, but I cannot find the good in measuring myself against others. Someone will always have given more charitably and freely than me, and from a position of greater poverty. Perhaps that is the point; that I should not consider my own circumstances or how much I have already given when I make my offerings, but instead simply give whatever I can. There is no point in making the comparisons; I will never have done enough.
For we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight, but also in the sight of man.
II Corinthians 8:21
Impossible. And yet necessary. I cannot achieve either one of those standards on my own, but in Christ I must achieve both.
II Corinthians 9
Paul writes a lot about this gift.
Nehemiah writes that the names of the heads of the Levites, the priests, are all recorded in the Book of Chronicles. But Chronicles focuses mostly on the kings of Judah. Maybe God is putting the focus on the kings not because the work of the priests wasn’t important, and not because the kings were good men (most weren’t). Perhaps God is focusing on the kings because from that line comes Jesus Christ. Our king.
The joy of Jerusalem is heard far away (verse 43). It is a joy that should be heard far away when God rebuilds the city and brings His remnant in. Is there a modern equivalent? Maybe the planting (or re-dedication) of a church? Not sure but it seems to make sense.
The amount of emphasis Nehemiah (and Ezra) place on the singers, the songs of praise and worship, continues to impress me.
So disappointing how quickly the leaders of Israel (Judah) depart from following God and begin to seize the holy things for their own enrichment. This is the easiest problem to foresee in the institutional church. We are but human, with human failings, human greed, human corruption.
Nehemiah has uncommon zeal for the Sabbath. What should the Sabbath actually look like for us today? I don’t even know where to begin with observing it.
I am glad church discipline no longer needs to involve Nehemiah’s methods: “I … cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair” (verse 25).