Nehemiah 5:15
But the former governors that had been before me were chargeable to the people, and had taken of them bread and wine…

1. Our text contains the regulative spring of a noble life. The words mean most to the young. Will the coming generation prefer conscience and convenience and make God the pole-star of their life? Every one of us is important to God, and the consciousness of this is the parent of virtue and the inspiration of heroism. God wants us. When was in disquiet of mind, he said, "Soul, what aileth thee?" And he seemed to hear a Divine voice within answer, "Look above." Turning upward and noting the stars looking down on him, he said, "Stars, can you tell me the meaning of my unrest?" And the stars whispered, "Look above." Remembering the angel-hosts of God marshalled for service or watchfulness, Augustine cried, "Ministers of God, can ye minister to a restless mind? "And they chanted, "Look above." "Maker of all things," said the reverent though unabashed inquirer, "tell me the meaning of this unsatisfiedness?" And God responded, "I have made thee for Myself, and thy soul can find no rest till it find rest in Me." When Samuel Webster was asked, as he sat at dinner, what was the most formative influence that entered his life, he replied, "The greatest influence that ever touched my life was the sense of my responsibility to God."

2. Doing right means sometimes being unfashionable. A business man died the other day. Writing to his travellers, he was accustomed to add a sentence like "Go straight." He knew that both right and wrong doing were contagious. Dr. Bushnell said to a young man who was consulting him as to the calling he should pursue, "Grasp the handle of your being." Your taste or fitness is as a handle to your faculties. Find your course and go right ahead in the teeth of opposition, in spite of the stings of sarcasm or the bitterness of temporary forsakenness. Remember Him who said, "I am alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me."

3. The power of numbers is magical, and we are so often bidden to do as others do. Said an avowed and educated infidel to a Christian apologist. "Let the final issue be what it may, the majority is against you, and I go with the majority." But the world has not always been saved by majorities. Reformers, statesmen, saints, singers, prophets, priests, believers in God and duty — these have been the saviours of society.

4. It is a moment of moral victory when a young man dares to say, "I cannot afford it."

5. A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of things that he possesseth, nor in the outward success of his noblest efforts; it does consist in his harmony of conscience with the fear of God, in the peace that is born of obedience. Whitfield and a companion were much annoyed one night by a set of gamblers in a room adjoining that in which they slept. Their clamour and their horrid blasphemy so excited Whitfield that he could not rest. "I will go and reprove their wickedness," said he. His companion remonstrated in vain. His words of reproof were apparently powerless. His companion asked him, "What did you gain by it?" "A soft pillow," he said, and soon fell asleep. Duty looks upward; duty implies God. Jesus Christ incarnated duty. Duty is the minister of heaven. This prayer was found in the desk of a schoolboy after his death: "O God, give me courage to fear none but Thee."

(John H. Goodman.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But the former governors that had been before me were chargeable unto the people, and had taken of them bread and wine, beside forty shekels of silver; yea, even their servants bare rule over the people: but so did not I, because of the fear of God.

WEB: But the former governors who were before me were supported by the people, and took bread and wine from them, besides forty shekels of silver; yes, even their servants ruled over the people: but I didn't do so, because of the fear of God.

Resistance to Evil
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