June 27 Notes & Questions
Wk 6 Dealing with Conflict
Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their fellow Jews. Some were saying, “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.” Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.” Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our fellow Jews and though our children are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.”
We see in verses 2-4 there are 3 groups facing financial hardship.
Group 1. They spent all their time and energy working on the wall. That means there was no time left to work for their own food. These may have been some of the poorest people involved in this project, because they do not own property, they would have made a living by harvest crops for others.
Group 2. There are those who own property. They were forced to mortgage their property to pay their bills. To make matters worse, there had been a famine and because of that they were having a hard time feeding their families already.
Group 3. This group had already been hit hard with Persian taxes on their property and their crops. They were probably the hardest hit not only did they mortgage their land, but sold their kids into slavery.
During ancient times this was not uncommon. If you couldn’t pay your debts you could sell yourself, or your kids into slavery. The Bible has very specific guidelines regarding this practice:
- God forbade His people to charge interest to each other. (Ex 22:25)
- The debtor was to be treated with dignity and respect as a fellow Jew and child of God. (Lev 25:39-40)
- These debts could include indentured service, but it did not include property. God had given the promised land to all His people. They were not allowed to buy or sell that land, not even to each other. (Num 36:7-9)
“…Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.”
How is anger righteous?
When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry.
I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, “You are charging your own people interest!” So I called together a large meeting to deal with them
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
From these verses we can learn how to deal with conflict in a Biblical way.
- Go directly to the person
2. Take a friend or two
3. Take the matter to the church
4. Distance yourself
Another thing we need to keep in mind when it comes to resolving conflict is to deal with issues right away and in a Godly manner.
Nehemiah’s Conflict Resolution
He got righteously angry
He had self-control
He followed Bible teaching when dealing with conflict
He lived a life above reproach
So I continued, “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies? I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let us stop charging interest! Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them—one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil.” “We will give it back,” they said. “And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.” Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath to do what they had promised.
So I continued, “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?
- True or False- Conflict makes people stronger and closer
- What are some things that people do that makes you mad?
- Because you’re upset with someone, does that mean there is conflict that needs to be dealt with?
- How do you know when the reason for your anger is righteous, or if the reason is something you need to personally work through?
- (Read Matthew 21:12-17) What made Jesus angry?
- (Read Nehemiah 5:1-5) Why was Nehemiah Angry in chapter 5?
- Compare and discuss the similarities and differences between questions 4 and 5.
- Is there benefit to taking some time to stop, think, and pray before talking to someone you are mad at? If yes, what are some of the benefits?
- Why is pent up anger do deadly and poisonous?
- Has there ever been a time when you were mad at someone and after you talked to them you felt better? Explain… if you’re comfortable explaining
- Has there ever been a time you were angry at someone and you didn’t talk to them? Did that effect you and/or the relationship?
- Name another time in the Bible when someone beside Jesus and Nehemiah got righteously angry. Name a time someone got angry and it was not righteous anger.
- When you have an issue with someone who does not believe in Jesus, how do you handle it?
- Are there some instances where you can relate to Nehemiah?
Nehemiah 5:1-19, Matthew 18:15-20, Matthew 21:12-17