Day 51 – Standards. We must set standards and then hold ourselves to those standards. Read Nehemiah 13:15-22.
In those days I saw in Judah some who were treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sacks of grain and loading them on donkeys, as well as wine, grapes, figs and all kinds of loads, and they brought them into Jerusalem on the sabbath day. So I admonished them on the day they sold food. Also men of Tyre were living there who imported fish and all kinds of merchandise, and sold them to the sons of Judah on the sabbath, even in Jerusalem. Then I reprimanded the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing you are doing, by profaning the sabbath day? Did not your fathers do the same, so that our God brought on us and on this city all this trouble? Yet you are adding to the wrath on Israel by profaning the sabbath.” It came about that just as it grew dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut and that they should not open them until after the sabbath. Then I stationed some of my servants at the gates so that no load would enter on the sabbath day. Once or twice the traders and merchants of every kind of merchandise spent the night outside Jerusalem. Then I warned them and said to them, “Why do you spend the night in front of the wall? If you do so again, I will use force against you.” From that time on they did not come on the sabbath. And I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves and come as gatekeepers to sanctify the sabbath day. For this also remember me, O my God, and have compassion on me according to the greatness of Your lovingkindness.
Nehemiah 13:15-22 NASB
Nehemiah is still discovering many things that have changed or slipped backwards since he has been gone. One of these was the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy and not conducting business or doing work. Unfortunately, the people have not been following that and so folks are coming in and out of the gate to transact business on the Sabbath. What does Nehemiah do? He shuts the gate. And then, when the people complain about it, he posts guards at the gate to ensure that it stays closed.
When we understand God’s rules and God’s laws and God’s desires for our lives, we realize that he has given us standards to live by. He has provided an expectation of what obedience to him looks like. We see that most clearly through the life of Jesus Christ. Sometimes, it can be easy to lose focus and to start going down a path where those standards don’t matter any more to us. How did Nehemiah combat against this? He set up guards around the standard. He knew and recognized that if God wanted him and the people to obey a certain standard, he was going to have to draw a hard line on where that was for them.
The same is true in our lives. God has standards and a desire for us to follow in obedience to him. Often, that will mean that we need to set up a hard line around those standards to ensure that we don’t slip backwards. Are we following up on the standards that God has set for us? What guards do we need to put in place so that we can continue to follow through on those standards, even when they get challenged?