This week, in Nehemiah 10, we read about the resolve of people who had been rescued by God.
When brought face-to-face with the fact they were living for themselves and not for God, the people of God made a decision to change. They didn’t just regret their unholy lifestyle, more importantly, they repented from it. Regret, as most of us know, is when I’m sorry just for the consequences. But when we repent, the inevitable outcome is a clear change. In Nehemiah, they repented and then changed their behavior. Why did they do this? Because they finally connected the dots and realized that true worship meant they were to see God in each aspect of their lives. This is what fearing the Lord means. Something happened in their basic understanding of God, which made them willing to change their behavior – not an easy thing to do. I think this is what Jesus had in mind [a change of the inner heart] when He talked to Nicodemus in John 3:3-10.
For the changed people in Nehemiah, their worship now meant they lived life with convictions. What are convictions? Let me offer three elements that form the convictions in my life. First, it’s a commitment to God’s Word as my authority. Second, it’s my constructed belief based on that authority. Third, it’s courage to act on what I believe.
In Nehemiah, the people discovered that if they truly worshiped God, it would help mold, protect and bless their children. They understood what God really expected of His worshipers. One of my basic convictions in life is to be a true worshiper of God.
Uncomfortable as it may be, God demands a separation of our lives from the world. I believe the greatest reason for “unacceptable worship” is because our hearts are often more attached to the world than they are attached to the Lord. This frequently shows up in our relationships and our willingness to compromise on issues about which the Lord has clearly spoken. In Nehemiah 10, we find the people are willing to start clean. They were to come apart from their ungodly compromises and start off clean. This included business relationships, as well as matters of marriage and family relationships (vs. 30). In the matter of marriage, it is very important to understand that what is being talked about here is a matter of faith and not of race. God was not prohibiting interracial marriage. The issue was one of not being unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14) in your life. To be so, means your worship will likely become compromised.
Have you discovered how really difficult it is to break the ties we form with people who don’t share our convictions about our faith or our God? Please note, I’m not talking about never relating to a non-believer…that would be silly. But what God’s Word is helping us to understand is that compromised relationships are very difficult to modify, and what is at stake is our identity, the loss of understanding who we are as God’s children, and our ability to be a true worshiper.
For me, I’m proclaiming 2018 to be a Year of Convictions, how about you?