Hindrances to Growth

By Rev. Ade Ajala

Nehemiah 5

1 And there was a great outcry of the people and their wives against their Jewish brethren.2For there were those who said, “We, our sons, and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain, that we may eat and live.”

3 There were also some who said, “We have mortgaged our lands and vineyards and houses, that we might buy grain because of the famine.” 4 There were also those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our lands and vineyards. 5 Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children; and indeed we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have been brought into slavery. It is not in our power to redeem them, for other men have our lands and vineyards.”

6 And I became very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. 7 After serious thought, I rebuked the nobles and rulers, and said to them, “Each of you is exacting usury from his brother.” So I called a great assembly against them. 8 And I said to them, “According to our ability we have redeemed our Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations. Now indeed, will you even sell your brethren? Or should they be sold to us?” Then they were silenced and found nothing to say.

9 Then I said, “What you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies? 10 I also, with my brethren and my servants, am lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop this usury! 11 Restore now to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, also a hundredth of the money and the grain, the new wine and the oil, that you have charged them.” 12 So they said, “We will restore it, and will require nothing from them; we will do as you say.” Then I called the priests, and required an oath from them that they would do according to this promise.

13 Then I shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out each man from his house, and from his property, who does not perform this promise. Even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.”

And all the assembly said, “Amen!” and praised the LORD. Then the people did according to this promise. 14 Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year until the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the governor’s provisions. 15 But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of God. 16 Indeed, I also continued the work on this wall, and we did not buy any land. All my servants were gathered there for the work.

17 And at my table were one hundred and fifty Jews and rulers, besides those who came to us from the nations around us. 18 Now that which was prepared daily was one ox and six choice sheep. Also fowl were prepared for me, and once every ten days an abundance of all kinds of wine. Yet in spite of this I did not demand the governor’s provisions, because the bondage was heavy on this people. 19 Remember me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.

As we continue our study on the book of Nehemiah, I want to remind you of the strategies of the enemies to discourage us from getting our lives back together. Remember that when you become born again, it represent the rebuilding of the Temple, but that alone in of itself does not guarantee a life of peace. Our peace is guaranteed by the rebuilding of our personality.

Jerusalem means “City of Peace” or “Peaceful habitation”. It is the word that is derived from the word “Shalom”. In other words, Jerusalem implies a prosperous habitation. It is God’s plan that the city prosper. To prosper means that nothing is missing and nothing is broken.

As you are regarded as Jerusalem, because you are God’s habitation, it then means that you are meant to be God’s prosperous habitation, a life where nothing is missing and nothing is broken. However, you will agree with me that the bulk of our walk with God is not so much about worship, but mostly about restoring our personality. Therefore you can be speaking in tongues and still be struggling in your personality. This is because the walls and gates of our lives need to be rebuilt and restored.

As a matter of fact the bulk of our coming to church every week is to see that we improve in the areas of our personality so that we can be fruitful witnesses to the world around us.

We noticed last week that as the Holy Spirit is working in our lives to rebuild our personality, the enemy of our souls will not relent in his efforts to see that the rebuilding of our personality is hindered.

His strategy is to attack your Ways, Walk and your Worship. He wants you to think that by rebuilding your personality your way or motive is that of pride and not humility. He suggests to you that you are weak and that your walk with God can never be strong as you think. He will also suggest to you that you do not have all that it takes to be a successful Christian and that your worship is fake. He reminds you of your past failings and even your present struggles.

However, like Nehemiah, the Holy Spirit will bring to your remembrance the resources available to you to overcome the enemy.

You have the Word of God as one of your resources. Use the Word of God against the enemy. Do not try to use philosophy or your experience; use the word of God and you will secure your victory.

You also have prayer as your resource. When the enemy comes to you with its plot, then go to God in prayer. Prayer gives God the permission to take over your battle for you. The role of the Holy Spirit is not small in this area of prayer. He helps you to pray as you ought to. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26 Also, Jude 20 says; “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.”

You have as well, as your resource, the fellowship of other believers in standing with you in intercession and in looking our for one another. In other words, you have me and I have you. Together we can beat back the enemy all the time. Nehemiah 4:19-20; “Then I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

Now let us look at practices that we also can place on ourselves that could make it even harder for the rebuilding of our personality and hinder our spiritual growth. Chapter five of the book of Nehemiah is a classic replay of the life of most Christians. While we are trusting God to extend grace to us and we enjoy God’s grace, we oftentimes find it difficult to extend grace to other people.

Sometimes, the opposition we face in the rebuilding of our personality is not the devil but the brethren in the church.

Verses 1-7 of Nehemiah 5, displayed three things that we can identify with that are capable of hindering our growth.

1. Mismanagement in the areas of relationships – disobedience in relationship. This is manifested in the way they charge interest on each other. This is seen in our lives as believers as the way we exact interest on our brothers and sisters in Christ. The way we as believers do that is through unforgiveness. We exact interest on people when we try to make them respond to us the way we think they should respond to us. Matthew 18 warned us of the danger of withholding forgiveness and teaches us the way we are to settle disputes.

2.Mismanagement in the areas of finances. Their concern for material interest was compelling them to respond in fear. They allow circumstances to make them mismanage their funds. Two errors they committed were:

(a) They did not follow God’s principle for their finances. According to the covenant of the tithes that was established for them, you will see later in Nehemiah 10:37 that it has to be reinstated for they were not presently doing it. They were hindering God’s blessing upon them by disobedience to God’s financial principles. Some of them it was due to ignorance, but for us it is simple disobedience. You can speak in tongues, cast out demons, lay hands on the dead and bring it back to life as you want, but if you are in financial mess, you will end up like this people, whining and complaining; unless you follow God’s financial principles of which tithing is a key.

(b) They were turning to their own resourcefulness. Just like you and I have excuses why we are in our financial mess. We took the second mortgage because we want to make our plans work. Verse 2 here is a classic example of some of us. This is not to make us feel like a failure but to remind us of the fact that we must never lean on our own understanding. We must always seek the Lord for His ways to get us out of any financial predicament. Let me show you a passage in the Bible that must never again be read in isolation of each other. Proverbs 3:5-10; “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. 8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones. 9 Honor the LORD with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.” We would rather go and get second job than to wait on the Lord. We would rather not come to church on Sunday than not to work the overtime. We would rather take the second mortgage than to simply walk by faith and wait on the Lord for provision. We lean on our own understanding rather than allow God to lead us. We follow social patterns. This is the way everybody does it! Are you everybody?

3. Mismanagement of the family system. Failing to perceive the importance of parent-child relationship. Here we see them using the children as excuse and outright abuse. They force their children to be slaves. It is unfortunate to note the disintegration of family system in our world today, especially in the body of Christ. Run away fathers who only know how to make babies but do not know how to raise them. Children are being forced to raise children because the only parent in the house has to go to work early in the morning, in order to provide for the family.

The solution is to invite God back into the equation. Just like Nehemiah in verse 12, called the Priests and required an oath from them, the Holy Spirit is calling on us pastors, teachers, prophets, evangelists, ministry leaders and brethren that we should come back to basics and begin to live a simple life; not one that is selfish but one that is selfless. Remember, greatness in not measured by the number of your servants, but by the numbers you served.

Let us stop taking usury/interests on people. In other words, it is time we return to a life that is willing to forgive. Christians could be too vengeful, but it must not be so among us!

Let us increase in our practice of hospitality. Open your resources for the benefits of others. Remember that the only thing you can actually keep is the one you give away. The only thing that multiplies in your life is the one you sown.

Join the Discussion