“Passivity is an enemy”
Warren Wiersbe has written a series of commentaries known as the “BE” series. His commentary on Philippians bears the title of “Be Joyful”, Romans “Be Right”, James “Be Mature” and Nehemiah “Be Determined”.
If I were to write on Nehemiah I think I would have chosen as my title “Be Proactive”.
Nehemiah was a man of action. When a problem presented itself or there was work to be done Nehemiah went on the offensive. I admire that. I want to be like that. I want our church to be like that. But most importantly I believe God wants us to be like that.
When Nehemiah learned of the suffering of the people of Jerusalem and the condition of the walls that used to protect the city he took action. In his own words he said
“The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand.” (Nehemiah 1:1–10, ESV)
These words in particular really grabbed my attention; “As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of Heaven”.
As soon as he heard he acted right then! He took immediate action! No putting it on the back burner, no waiting to see if someone else would react. He took immediate action!
You say but wait a minute Wilson, all he did was cry and moan about what was going on what kind of action is that? But notice that wasn’t the end, his tears and his mourning were just the beginning, his emotional response led to a physical response. What was his physical response? He fasted and he prayed!
Let me ask you a question, how do you view prayer?
- Do you think of prayer as a passive activity in which you pray and then go your way?
- Or do you see prayer as proactive?
- Do you understand that prayer is one of the most important activities that you can engage in as a Christian?
- Do you understand the prayer is one of the most powerful activities that you can engage in as a Christian?
- Do you think of prayer as going on the offensive, asking God to move, asking God to act, asking God to carry out his will and to bring glory to himself?
When Nehemiah heard the bad news he was emotionally affected which led to him pray – he took action.
Earlier I said that I believe that God wants us to be proactive to take the initiative and to set goals.
After all we know that we have been created in God’s image. No one can deny that our God is a proactive God.
- It was his idea to create the planet on which we live.
- It was God’s idea to seek out Adam and Eve when they sinned against him.
- It was his idea to create a nation that would be uniquely his.
- It was God’s idea to send his Son to be the perfect Lamb of God who takes away our sin.
Need I go on?
Being created in the image of God means that we too must be proactive. Jesus tells us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” In other words don’t wait for the world to come to you – because they won’t – instead you are to take the initiative and go to them.
We should all be like Nehemiah who said to the king – send me I’ve got a plan, I’m ready to go! How about you? Do you have a plan are you ready to go?