Don’t Grow Weary in Doing Good - Radical

Don’t Grow Weary in Doing Good

You may or may not view yourself as a leader, but almost everyone has some kind of influence on those around them. The question is, “How are you leveraging that influence?” In this message from Nehemiah 5:19–24 from David Platt, we’re challenged from the example of Nehemiah to see our influence as a responsibility before God. We want to point others to Christ and lay down our lives for their eternal good. In the end, followers of Jesus don’t live for their own rights or for the opinions of men: we live for the commendation of God alone.

If you have a Bible—and I hope you or somebody around you does that you can look on with—let me invite you to open with me to Nehemiah 5. Feel free to use the table of contents if you need to, to find Nehemiah 5:14–19 today. 

I want to set up this passage with a question for you to think about. What opportunities do you have in your life specifically to influence others? I want you to think about opportunities for influence in a variety of different ways. Every one of us will have a unique answer to this question.

In your relationships—so think about your family members, friends, coworkers, classmates or others—what opportunities do you have to influence these people? Think about opportunities you have to influence with your resources. Think about opportunities you have to affect others with your money, with your unique talents, with your unique time. Think about opportunities to affect others with power or privileges you have. There are privileges that accompany merely being a citizen of this country and living in this part of the world. Think about any power or position of leadership you’ve been given, whether it’s formal or informal—in your home, workplace, school, maybe in the world, maybe by the nature of your job. 

We live in the capital of our country. Maybe you’re a politician or in some other position of influence in our government or the military. Then finally, think about opportunities for influence you have, not just in your relationships or your resources, but through your rights. This can obviously go in many different directions, but in light of it being 2024 in our country, many of us have a right to vote that we can use to influence our country. Or we have rights to speak, write, post and act in ways that can influence others. 

The point is, every one of us has opportunities to influence others—in relationships, with resources, through rights. So we need to hear from God about how we view these opportunities and how we steward them for good. Let’s be honest. We can all think of examples of people with power, position, money or talent. People in companies, in countries or in our lives. People who have done or are doing much harm with the opportunities for influence they have. The same thing can be true in any one of our lives. 

So let’s read Nehemiah 5:14-19. For anybody who’s not been here the last few weeks, we’re walking through this personal account from Nehemiah of how God called him as the king’s cupbearer to leave the comforts of the Persian palace behind and go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls around that city.

We’ve seen how Nehemiah went to the Persian king, Artaxerxes, and asked for support for this work of rebuilding the walls. And the king gave it to him. But now, for the first time, we’re about to hear about how Nehemiah was appointed to be their governor for 12 years. That’s a high position, with all kinds of power, rights, resources and relationships. So let’s hear how he viewed and stewarded this opportunity to influence others. Nehemiah wrote:

14 Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the food allowance of the governor. 15 The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God. 16 I also persevered in the work on this wall, and we acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. 17 Moreover, there were at my table 150 men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 Now what was prepared at my expense for each day was one ox and six choice sheep and birds, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the service was too heavy on this people. 19 Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.

So if you’re taking notes, I want to encourage you to write down three takeaways from these verses about, not just what God did in and through Nehemiah here, but how God throughout his Word calls us to see and steward opportunities to influence others, starting with this:

1. See your opportunities to influence others as a responsibility before God.

In just a minute I’m going to explain what Nehemiah was doing here as governor, but before we even get there, I want you to notice the end of verse 15. He contrasts himself with previous governors, saying, “I did not act like they did.” Why? “…[B]ecause of the fear of God.”

Throughout this story Nehemiah is telling, and throughout this book, Nehemiah is making it clear that he knows he is where he is, he’s doing what he’s doing, he has the opportunity for influence that he has because God has given it to him. 

Remember Nehemiah 2:8, when he asked the king for permission to leave the palace and for support to rebuild the walls, he wrote this: “And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.” Four verses later, he wrote how God was the one who had put it into his heart to do this for Jerusalem. By the end of that chapter, verse 18, he’s telling people in Jerusalem, “I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good,” that had led to all of this. So when Nehemiah becomes governor, he knows, “I’ve been given this position, not ultimately by king Artaxerxes, but by the King himself. God, who is the king of the nations, has entrusted me to be the governor of these people. I have responsibility to king Artaxerxes, but ultimately to God for what I do with it.”

This is a reminder for all of us that opportunities to influence others are a responsibility before God. Just think about this in your life. The opportunity to be a husband means responsibility before God for the good of your wife. The opportunity to be a parent means responsibility before God for the care of your children. The opportunity to be a leader in any company, organization or country is a responsibility before God. And not just for formal positions like this, but all the opportunities we have, in relationships, with our resources or rights, like we mentioned before. We are responsible before God for how we use all these things. Don’t forget—he is God. He’s the Lord over all. Which means that any position of leadership we have is under him. We’re never ultimately in charge. He’s always in charge. He’s the owner of all, which means any resources we have come from him. You may think it’s your house, your car, your money, but it all belongs to God and not ultimately you. He’s the king of all creation, which means any rights we have are not ultimately given to us by our country, but by our creator.  

Now do you see why Nehemiah said, “I govern this way because I fear God”? Your perspective on leadership, power, money, talents, resources and rights changes when you realize all of these things bring responsibility before God. 

 Picture it this way. I think about going out on a date or taking a trip with Heather and entrusting our children to someone’s care. That person has an extremely important responsibility before us. I think about the Olympics coming up. Athletes will be given opportunity to compete in a way that carries a responsibility to represent their country well. So see this relationship between opportunity and responsibility in so many areas of life. Now see it in all of life, by realizing that any leadership, any power, any money, any talents, any resources, any rights, any relationships in your life have been entrusted to you by God himself. That changes your perspective—which then leads you to the second takeaway.

2. Steward your opportunities to influence others for their good.

God says, “With whatever opportunities I entrust to you, steward your opportunities to influence others for their good.” I want to show you this in Nehemiah’s example, as well as in God’s Word far beyond Nehemiah, then we’ll think about what this means in our lives. God calls us to steward our opportunities to influence others for their good in three particular ways.

  1. God calls you to willingly sacrifice your rights. A little background here. As the governor, under the king’s authority, Nehemiah had the right to tax the people in order to provide food for himself. In this way, he was also personally able to provide for himself and his household. The point is he could have gotten more by taxing the people, which is exactly what previous governors had done. But not Nehemiah. Nehemiah said, “…neither I nor my brothers ate the food allowance of the governor.” He had a right to tax the people for that food allowance, but he didn’t take it. This is really similar language to what Paul says to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 9 That we’ve studied this before. Paul was talking about the right he had to food and drink and support from the church there. But he believed that would actually hinder his spreading the gospel among them, so he wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:12, “We have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.” He goes on to say in that chapter, “I’ve not made use of a number of my rights, so that I can spread the gospel among you.” 

So God, throughout his Word, is telling us that stewarding our influences for others’ good sometimes means sacrificing our rights for others’ good.

Think about all the rights in your life, especially as an American who probably clings to your rights. You have a right to eat, drink, watch, wear, study, listen to and say whatever you want. You have the right to organize your schedule this week, to spend your time, to choose your career, to make your money, to use your money, to take your vacation and plan your retirement. In the end, you have the right to do what you want to do, go where you want to go and live how you want to live. 

Maybe more than any people in any other country or culture in world history, we know our rights, which makes this word from God especially important for you and me. God is calling us, as his people, to sacrifice some of our rights for the good of others. That’s a very different way to live in this country and in this world. This world says, “If you have more money, then indulge in more things for yourself. If you have power, use it to your advantage. If you have talents, promote yourself.” There’s a sense in which the American dream is built on these things, leveraging our rights to get the most for ourselves. It’s the way the world works, but God says, “It’s not the way you work. You willingly sacrifice your rights for others’ good.”

  1. God calls you to selflessly serve in your relationships. As governor, Nehemiah was in charge of all the people in all the work, which means he could have just sat back in his house and told the people what to do, without doing the work himself. He didn’t need to be with them, nor do any work for them. But in verse 15, did you notice that he talks about how even the servants of the governors before him “lorded it over the people” in oppressive ways? 

Then he says in verse 16, “I also persevered in the work on this wall, and we acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work.” Nehemiah was on the wall with the people, plus all the people who worked with him were on the wall with the people as well. Nehemiah saw his position of leadership as a position of service. He was leading, not by being served by others, but by being a servant of others. God makes clear throughout his Word that this is what he requires of his people. Ezekiel 34:2-4 is another potent example of this. When God is speaking to the leaders of his people—the shepherds of Israel who were supposed to be caring for the sheep he entrusted to them—listen to what God says to Ezekiel: 

2 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 

Do you see God’s definition of leadership here? Leadership is strengthening the weak. It’s healing the sick. It’s binding up the injured. It’s bringing back those who have strayed. It’s seeking after the lost. God is saying, “In the relationships I entrust to you, you’re the servant.” Then God says a few verses later, in verses 10-11:

 Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them. For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 

God says, “I’m going to come and do this myself. I’m going to come and serve by sheep.” And ultimately God does exactly that in Jesus. In John 10:11, Jesus says—in a very clear reference to this imagery from Ezekiel 34—“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” He says, “That’s why I’m here.” Then a couple chapters after this, in John 13, Jesus redefines greatness in leadership with a towel and a basin, as he stoops and washes his disciples’ feet. Then he looks at them and says, in verses 12-17:

12 Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 

God is clearly saying throughout his Word, “Selflessly serve in your relationships.” So think about your relationships. We’ll start with family members. For those of you who have others in your home, do you see yourself as the servant of those others, or as someone who’s supposed to be served by them? It changes the dynamic of a home when everybody sees themselves as a servant of each other. 

Heather and I were with our young adults here at Tysons Citywide a couple weeks ago, talking about marriage from Ephesians 5. There we see God’s call for a husband to lead his wife by laying down his life to serve her. I just shared with them, “I know this passage in Ephesians is not popular in our culture, and sometimes even in the church today, but I’ve never met a wife who was not glad to follow a husband who was ultimately serving the Lord and daily laying down his life to love, serve and sacrifice for her good.” Husbands, your responsibility before God is to serve your wife—and that’s just one relationship. 

Think about other relationships. Think about your friendships. Do you see yourself as the servant of your friends? Who comes to your mind when you think about your friends? Do you think, “I’m a servant of theirs. I live to serve them”? 

Now bring coworkers to mind. Those of you who have jobs, do you see yourself as their servant? What about students? Think of your classmates. Do you see yourself as a servant of others in the halls of your school? This applies to every relationship, including people you interact with every day that you don’t even know, people you’ll meet this week. Do you see yourself as the servant of those people? God is telling us today in his Word, “I entrust relationships to you for you to be the servant.” 

  1. God calls you to generously share your resources. God is calling you today, in this picture, to steward your opportunities and influence others by generously sharing the resources you have. Starting in verse 17, Nehemiah describes his dinner table at night; it’s a feast to say the least. I think I feed a lot of people at my table, but for Nehemiah, it was “150 men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us.” Well, that’s a lot of people. And he serves them “one ox and six choice sheep and birds, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance.” Then he says again, “I did not demand the food allowance of the governor” in all of this. So this isn’t Nehemiah being generous with others’ resources. 

I can think of more than one occasion when one of my older kids was out with their friends, maybe with some money we had given them, and they were happy to treat their friends to meals or whatever else they wanted. It’s just so kind of them; they have such generous hearts with my money. 

But that’s not what Nehemiah was doing here. Remember, Nehemiah had sacrificed that right. Instead, he was using what he had, sharing it generously with all these people. What a picture. It makes me think of the very first picture of the church that we see in the Bible—in the New Testament—at the beginning of Acts 2. As soon as the first Christian sermon was preached and thousands of people came to know Jesus, Acts 2:42-45 tells us this:

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 

Isn’t that amazing? One of the first things these new Christians do is start selling their possessions, giving the money to anyone who had needs. They did this in such a way that just two chapters later,  “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need” (Acts 4:34-35).  What a picture of God’s people! They were selling land and houses and possessions for the sake of others in need. 

What about God’s people today? This is the picture of what it means to be the people of God. God makes it very clear in his Word that his people use their resources very differently from the rest of the world. So let’s just think about the resources I mentioned at the beginning, starting with money. Do you generously share your money for the good of others? Is that true in your life? Or do you generously spend your money on yourself? God tells us very clearly in 1 Timothy 6:17, right after he tells us the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, he says, “As for the rich in this present age” —those with money—“charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” In other words, don’t hope in your money; hope in God alone. Don’t trust in your money; trust in God alone. Don’t seek money for satisfaction; seek God alone for satisfaction.

Then he says in verses 18-19, “They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” Generously share. Don’t hoard and keep it to yourself, spending it on yourself.

This does not just apply to money. How can your talents be stewarded to promote others’ good, not yourself? How can your time be used on what’s best for others? What about any power or privileges you’ve been given, or a position God has placed you in? How can you steward these things for the good of others, particularly people in need? God gives resources to provide for us, and that these resources might overflow through us for the good of others. Don’t buy into the lie the world promotes that says the more you have, the more you should get. It’s not true. God has designed your heart to be glad in giving, not in getting. That changes the way we live.

This is clear in so many different ways. Just look to the end. When Jesus describes the final judgment in Matthew 25:35-36, when he will welcome his people into his kingdom, what does he say? “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” The kingdom of God is all about being generous with your resources on behalf of people in need. This is what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

I want to pause for just a moment here and praise God for a few of the many Nehemiahs in our church family who are sacrificing their rights, serving and sharing resources, who are stewarding opportunities to influence others for their good. Here are just a couple of examples at different locations this month.

We’ve hosted respite days for Access families on a few Saturdays.  Out at Montogomery County, we had a rainy day, but praise God there were people serving and being blessed by those really helpful and important days. In spite of a rainy day, they still found a way to get outside and go to a playground nearby. These days always require a lot of volunteers to sacrifice their right to a nice comfortable Saturday at home to serve others.

Some of these volunteers are pictured here. I want you to notice Max in the yellow circle. Max is in college a few hours away. On multiple occasions, Max has driven three hours from college just to serve in Access on a weekend, or to serve in a next generation ministry. I don’t know what your college budget was like, but gas money today on a college budget is most of the budget. Max is stewarding his time and money to serve others. Praise God for how that’s happening in young adults across our church family.

Then I got an email this week from someone outside our church bragging about some members of our church who came together last Saturday to help a ministry in our city that’s serving kids who age out of the foster care system. The email said, “I am completely blown away by the number of volunteers who came out to spend their Saturday serving both the staff and young adults at Impact Living Services. They cleaned and cleared out two garages, loaded pickup trucks with furniture, took multiple trips to the dump, transformed two garages into stores, plus furnished an entire apartment. This is above and beyond what we could have dreamed for the day.” It was just another Saturday for these brothers and sisters.

 So then one more example. I think of a precious sister in our church family. I don’t have a picture of her and she wanted to make sure this was anonymous; I didn’t the other people pictured that option. This precious sister saw her husband go be with the Lord suddenly and unexpectedly this last fall, just a couple days before she gave birth to their second child. The first child has special needs. Her church group has walked with her through all this. Recently she had a car she didn’t need anymore, but instead of selling it—which she could have done and made money on it, which would not be wrong by any means—she gave it away to another church member who just so happened to be praying for a car. That church member was so shocked when he learned that this sister, after all she’s been through, was giving her car to him. Then her baby was born this past fall and has been growing extra fast. One day she realized she would need new clothes for him sooner than she thought. She then walked out of her house and there was an Amazon package at her door. She opened it up and found it full of brand new clothes in the size that her child needed. The only on the sender line was “From women who are praying for you.” Yes! 

I praise God for the stewardship we see playing out all across your lives. Church family, in the words of Galatians 6:9, “Let us not grow weary of doing good.” Let’s live to do good like this, which all leads to the last takeaway from this picture in Nehemiah 5.

3. Seek and be satisfied in the commendation of God alone.

Based on all the Bible, see your opportunities to influence others as a responsibility before God, steward your opportunities to influence others for their good, and number three, seek and be satisfied in the commendation of God alone. 

Now, this might feel contradictory, because I just commended a variety of people across our church family, so let’s be clear on a couple things. One, biblically it is right and good to encourage and celebrate God’s grace in each other’s lives. So look for opportunities to do that all the time. And two, I’m confident that none of the people I’ve mentioned did what they did to get a spotlight in this sermon. They were doing what they were doing for others’ good and God’s glory. And that’s the point. 

Back here in Nehemiah, other people probably expressed gratitude to Nehemiah for God’s grace in and through his life and his leadership. If they were sitting down at that table, their gratitude was appropriate. This is what I love about where Nehemiah 5 ends. In verse 19, Nehemiah prayed, “Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.” This is what Nehemiah was focused on. He was seeking the commendation of God alone. He was satisfied, as long as he knew that God was pleased. 

Did you notice the language here? You’ve got to see this. Having done all of these things for these people—sharing, serving, sacrificing for their good—ultimately it was because he feared God and believed it would lead to his own good. Did you see that? It is good for us to fix our eyes on God and as we do, to serve other people for their good. It will be good for you to seek and be satisfied in the commendation of God alone. I want you to think about why this is so important. In a world where you and I, every day, are constantly tempted in so many ways to look to others, to think about what others are thinking about us, what others might say about us, looking to others for a sense of approval, acceptance, applause or any number of other things, God says, “Don’t do it.”

Don’t be like the Pharisees, whom Jesus said in John 12:43, “They loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” That’s an empty way to live, looking to what men, women, other people say or think about you, what they like about you. No, don’t see yourself through the eyes of others and spend your days consumed with what they think or say. Don’t even focus on how they might respond to all your attempts to work for their good. Don’t look to them; look to God. Seek and be satisfied with praise from God. Praise from God, period. That’s what we’re living for. 

In the words of Jesus in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, live to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Seek his “Well done.” Be satisfied in his “Well done.” That’s a full way to live. 

Now, this is the most important part of this entire message. Let’s realize we cannot hear, “Well done,” from a perfect, just, holy God on our own, because we have all sinned against God. On our own, in and of ourselves, we have all turned aside from God to ourselves. Instead of orienting our lives around him, we orient our lives around us. As a result, not one of us could hear, on our own, “Well done,” from a good and just and holy God. We deserve, not commendation, but condemnation for our sin. 

Now the good news of the Bible—and the greatest news in all the world—is that God loves us so much that despite our sin against him, he has come to us himself in Jesus, like a good shepherd who loves his sheep enough to lay down his life for them. Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 20:28, right before he went to the cross to pay the price for their sins, “The Son of Man” —talking about himself —“came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus gave his life. He paid the ransom price—the penalty—for our sins before a holy God. Are you seeing this? Jesus, God in the flesh, did not come to be served by you. He came to serve you. He came to be the servant in his relationship with you. He sacrificed his rights in glory, came to pay the price on the cross for our sin, then he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, so that he might share all of his resources with anyone who trusts in him and to serve them.

Now, for anybody listening today who’s never trusted God to serve you by forgiving you of your sin and giving you eternal life with him through Jesus, I invite you—I urge you—to do that today. Why would you wait another day to be served with eternal life by God? Turn aside from your sin and yourself, trusting in God and his love for you. When you do, and for every follower of Jesus who has, this is the Savior whose Spirit is living in you right now. So see every opportunity you have to influence others as a responsibility before him, really as a gift from him. By the power of the Holy Spirit of Jesus inside you, steward those opportunities for others’ good. Just as Jesus did then and wants to do through you now, willingly sacrifice your rights, selflessly serve in your relationships and generously share your resources. All in such a way that when you lay your head down on your pillow at night, you can rest, not in the commendation of this world. That leads to restlessness. Not by being concerned about what does this or that person think about you. No, rest your head on your pillow at night in the commendation of God alone. 

Then ultimately you can stand before God one day, face to face, and by his grace hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Observation: What does the passage say?

1) Read Nehemiah 5:14–19 aloud as a group. Let group members share observations. Try not to move into interpretation of the passage or application of what you read quite yet. Simply share what you observe.

a) What do we learn about Nehemiah’s leadership and how he handled his promotion? Nehemiah 5:14–18

    • What promotion did Nehemiah’s receive and how long did he serve in this role? Nehemiah 5:14
    • What rights and privileges accompanied this role? Nehemiah 5:14, 18
    • How did Nehemiah steward his rights and privileges? Nehemiah 5:14b, 16–18
    • How did he steward the resources that were entrusted to him? Nehemiah 5:17–18

b) In contrast, what do we learn about the previous leaders? Nehemiah 5:14, 15

    • What did they do? How did they exercise their rights and privileges? Nehemiah 5:14, 15
    • What are some differences between their leadership style and Nehemiah’s do you observe? 

c) How did his leadership influence the behavior of those around him? Nehemiah 5:14, 16

d) What was Nehemiah’s motivation? Whose praise and applause did he seek? Nehemiah 15:15b, 19

2) How would you summarize Nehemiah 5:14-19 in your own words?

Interpretation: What does the passage mean?

1) How did Nehemiah view his promotion? Nehemiah 2:8, 2:18, 5:15 How should view any opportunities of influences or promotion we receive? And what safeguards should we have in place? Psalm 75:6–7, 1 Peter 4:10

2) Why did Nehemiah choose to not take advantage of the rights of food and property when it was not wrong to do so? – Nehemiah 5:14, 18

    • How does God call his people to sacrifice some of their rights for the good of others? 1 Cor 9:12–1, Philippians 2:3–4

3) How did Nehemiah view his position of leadership? Nehemiah 5:14–16 

    • What does God require of leaders Ezekiel 34:1–4? What are some warnings for leaders who misuse their responsibilities? Ezekiel 10–11
    • How does Jesus model leadership? Mark 10:45, John 10:11, John 13:12–17, Philippians 2:6–9
    • How are leaders called to serve those entrusted to their care? 1 Peter 5:2–4

4) How are believers called to use their resources different from the world’s? Proverbs 3:17, Matt 25:35–36, Act 2:42–45, Romans 12:13, 1 Timothy 6:17–19, Galatians 6:9

5) What does scripture teach about the dangers of seeking man’s approval rather than God’s Matt 25:25, John 12:43, Colossians 3:23, Galatians 2:10

Application: How can we apply this passage to our lives?

  1. How are you currently viewing your opportunities to influence others?  In your RELATIONSHIPS? With your RESOURCES? Through your RIGHTS? 
    • Do you see these opportunities as a gift and responsibility before God? If not, what challenges or struggles do you face? 
    • As you steward these opportunities, are you satisfied in God’s pleasure in you? If not, in what ways are you tempted to seek the praise of man, rather than the praise of God?
  2. What are 2-3 ways that God is calling you today to more faithfully steward your opportunities to influence others for their good? Any specific step(s) can you take this week to:
    • Sacrifice your RIGHTS for the good of others? 
    • Selflessly serve in selflessly serve in one or more of your RELATIONSHIPS? 
    • Share your RESOURCES more generously?
  3. In light of today’s discussion, how can your church group/huddle members pray for you?

Nehemiah 5:14-19 ESV

14 Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the food allowance of the governor. 15 The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God. 16 I also persevered in the work on this wall, and we acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. 17 Moreover, there were at my table 150 men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 Now what was prepared at my expense for each day was one ox and six choice sheep and birds, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the service was too heavy on this people. 19 Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.

Sermon Recap

  1. See your opportunities to influence others as a responsibility before God.
  2. Steward your opportunities to influence others for their good.
    1. Willing to sacrifice your rights (e.g., freedom of speech or freedom of religion)
    2. Selflessly serve in your relationships (e.g., family members, friends, co-workers, classmates)
    3. Generously share your resources (e.g., money, talents, time, power, privileges, position)
  3. Seek and be satisfied in the commendation of God alone.
David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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