Page 13 - November 2020 - Truth & Tidings
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dominant ethnic group, and overseers   entrusted with additional responsibility
        should uphold the principle that “there   as they grow. It is usually an indictment
        is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and   of oversight when there is no one to whom
        uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian,   responsibility can be passed.
        slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put
        on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and   The Compensations of Godly
        beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness,   Leaders
        humility, meekness, and patience” (Col   As we conclude our series of studies,
        3:11-12).                             it is reasonable to ask whether all
          We must avoid spiritual oppression at   Nehemiah’s efforts were worthwhile.
        all cost. While it is not a democracy, there   Having considered the many and varied
        is little more debilitating in an assembly   difficulties  that this  faithful servant
        than an authoritarian culture of fear   of God faced, the question becomes
        and intimidation, particularly when it   even more poignant from our historical
        masquerades as piety. Alarm bells should   perspective when we consider how the
        ring when saints are afraid to speak up   spiritual decline of the nation of Israel
        because all “difference” is characterised   continued after his time, culminating in
        as “dissent” and therefore a carnal cause   their rejection and crucifixion of their
        of strife and division.               Messiah, and their subjugation under
                                              successive world empires, until at last they
        The Challenge of Occupation           all but ceased to exist as an entity with the
          Nehemiah appreciated, as astute leaders   destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Given
        do, how important it is to maintain   such apparent failure, was it worth it?
        progress by occupying territory won.    Many an overseer has asked the same
        Realising how quickly and easily      question concerning his own heartache
        unconsolidated gains become losses, he   and toil, Is it worth it? This is, of course,
        ensured that the rebuilt city was owned   the wrong question. We ought to ask, Is
        and populated without delay (11:1-2).  He worth it?
          The principle holds good in the spiritual   We began our studies by observing
        realm. Godly overseers understand that   that true spiritual leadership is motivated
        spiritual progress is  incremental – in   by the aim of bringing glory to God;
        the life of an assembly and of individual   it is about pursuing His interests and
        believers – and that each small gain   nurturing those things that are precious
        must be secured – or lost. For example,   to Him.
        overseers should not assume that new     That this is often at odds with what
        converts will instinctively know how to   the world prizes is evident from Paul’s
        read and pray. Young believers must be   ministry. Writing generally about the
        encouraged to pursue personal holiness,   value of spiritual service, he said, “Each
        perhaps  needing  sympathetic  help  to   one’s work will become manifest, for the
        overcome (rather than be overcome     Day will disclose it, because it will be
        by) addictive  habits and destructive   revealed by fire, and the fire will test what
        attitudes. Developing believers should   sort of work each one has done” (1Co
        be encouraged to use, not lose, their   3:13). Paul also wrote, “We must all appear
        spiritual gifts, and be instructed in and   [become manifest] before the judgment
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