#209 – Battling Selfishness (Nehemiah 5:7)

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Nehemiah 5:7. I took counsel with myself and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them, “You are exacting interest each from his brother.” And I held a great assembly against them. So what’s happening here is as the people of God are working together on the walls, what’s happening is the nobles and the officials start taking advantage of people. And in their power, their self interest starts to take over. And they begin, basically, cheating their brothers and sisters around them.

We are prone to look out for our interests and not the interests of others.

I see in this picture the constant tendency, certainly in leaders, to use and abuse power for selfish gain. But it’s not even just leaders, certainly those who are in positions are prone to that of leadership. But even just in our own lives that we’re constantly tempted to think about my own heart. And the constant temptations to do whatever is best for me, to work for myself, to work out of self interest, and even to use others in ways that are good for me … oh, how sinful that is. And Nehemiah chapter five just opens my heart, I hope our hearts, to the sinfulness in us, this tendency towards selfishness that we need God to change in us, that we might …

Think about Jesus saying, “The greatest commandment, love God with all you are and then love your neighbor as yourself.” Look out for your neighbor as yourself. Serve your neighbor as yourself. So we pray today, God, deliver us from self interest, from pride, from always looking out for ourselves. Help us to look out for others. Help us to serve others. Help us to care for the people around us. God forgive us and keep us, guard us, from this tendency, I see it in my own life, to always think, “What does this mean for me? What does this mean for me? What does this mean for me?” As if I’m the center of the Universe or what matters most is me.

How many think, “What does this mean for others? What does this mean for this person, that person? And ultimately, what does this mean for God, His glory, His name in this situation?” God help me to think with love for you ultimately, and then love for others. I pray for that in my own life. I pray for that in all of our lives. God, keep us from selfishness today. Keep us from always thinking what’s best for us. Lord, deliver us from living like that. Help us to think, “What’s best for others? What’s best ultimately for your glory?”

May that kind of heart mark our thinking and our desiring and our deciding and our talking, and our living. Today we pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

David Platt
David Platt is the president of the International Mission Board (IMB), Teaching Pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington D.C., and founder of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Follow Me, and Counter Culture.
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