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“How Are You Treating Your Brethren?”

Categories: Bible, Character Study, Christian, Church, Daily Living, Faith, Family, God, Love, Nehemiah, New Testament, Obedience, Old Testament, Repent, Sin, Spiritual Growth

Nehemiah 5 records a sad event in the history of God’s people. As the wall was being built, and the people united against a common enemy, Nehemiah records that the “nobles and the rulers” (v. 7) were guilty of oppressing their countrymen. They did this by charging usury (KJV) or interest against their people. Think: Loan sharks!

The affected people came to Nehemiah, crying out against this treatment. Why had they gotten out of the bondage of Xerxes only to trade it for bondage to their brethren? Sons and daughters were sold into servitude so landowners could pay the interest they had accrued (Neh. 5:5). This was wrong, and Nehemiah condemned the “nobles and the rulers” for their behavior (Neh. 5:7, 9).

There had been a famine (Neh 5:3), and though there were people who needed to buy grain or other things, those making the loans could have left off charging their brethren interest (v. 10). Can you imagine the decline in morale as the work of wall-building is taking place, and then those trying to build the wall cannot work because of how their brethren are treating them! In this chapter, we see that it was not what Sanballat, Tobiah, and the others had done that was killing them. This issue was internal!

How are we treating our spiritual brethren? Christ says the world will know we are His disciples when they observe the love we show our brethren (Jn. 13:34-35). Loving the brethren is more than words. It is also action (I Jn. 3:18)! What does the world see in us? What do we see in each other (Phil. 2:3)? Friend, how can a man love God whom he hasn’t seen if he doesn’t love the brethren he has seen (I Jn. 4:20)?

Have we noticed that often we treat strangers better than we treat those we know the best? Just observe and contrast how we treat a stranger in town with how we treat a family member at home. Why the difference? Similarly, some treat their brethren in harsh ways. Do we backbite? Gossip? Treat them cruelly? Why is this? Aren’t we supposed to be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17)? Why then, do brethren treat those we are supposed to spend eternity with worse than the people who have rejected God? Please understand, our work is to love all men without partiality (Jas. 2:8). So, why are we not completing our work?

Let’s take a moment for some self-examination (II Cor. 13:5). How are you treating your brethren? Are you treating them with love (Matt. 22:39)? Are you treating them as you want to be treated (Matt. 7:12)? If not, why not? Why are you not willing to treat those whom God loves with respect? Don’t act like the “nobles and the rulers” did. Instead, read Romans 12:9-21 and treat fellow-Christians in a manner that respects them and God!

I am thankful to see that when confronted by Nehemiah about their behavior, the “nobles and the rulers” repented (Neh. 5:11-12). What will we do if we examine ourselves (II Cor. 13:5; Jas. 1:22-25) and see that we are guilty?

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

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